I have not said too much here about the hard parts of having newborn twins. I think it's because the hard parts are not sticking out in my mind. I don't think we have had a bad experience at all, and I am completely aware that it could have been so, so much worse. I guess that's why I haven't talked about the hard stuff, because I did not have it too bad, and because I realize how incredibly, beyond all belief blessed we have been.
But...for the sake of my future recollections, I want to reflect a little on the hardest days. They are already fading fast from my memory, being replaced by all the joy of watching my babies grow and develop, so I want to talk about them now before I forget what it was like. If we ever decide to have more children, I will come back and read this post first! : )
My experience in the hospital was overall a good one. I relayed the birth story in a previous post, so I won't go into all the details. However, I do want to mention that I in no way regret choosing to have my babies by c-section. I know the method of birthing one's child is a very personal subject, and many people are touchy about it. Everyone should certainly choose what works best for them. I felt a c-section was the best option in our situation, and would be the safest route for me and my girls. As I recently told a friend, it was very much a pleasant experience, aside from you know, the cutting part. I seem to have a fairly high tolerance for pain, so the recovery from surgery was really no big deal (honestly! I'm not glossing it over in hindsight). Anyway, birth went great, no major stresses there.
The rest of the hospital stay was full of new experiences for Jeremy and me. We had no clue what we were doing with a new baby, much less two of them. We kept looking at each other, going, "These are really our kids? They're going to send them home with us? They must be crazy!" I remember being somewhat emotional in the hospital, and at times wishing everyone would leave so we could practice taking care of our babies that we were going home with all alone...but then I would panic and think, "We can't do this; I need the baby nurse!" We did send the babies to the nursery at night so we could sleep, although I still don't think I got more than a couple of hours throughout the nights I was there. The babies would come in every three hours to eat, and I would be thrilled to see them again, surprised to see they still looked as beautiful and sweet as I remembered from a few hours before.
Sunday, the day they sent us home (really, did anyone else find it hard to believe they just let you drive off with your newborn, without a clue what you're supposed to do with it??), the emotions set in. I had heard all about post-partum depression and the signs to look for, but I thought there was no way that would happen to me. Let me tell you people, those hormones and emotions are UNIMAGINABLE. I have never in my life felt so out of control of my own emotions. I cried at every drop of a hat...uncontrollable, unconsolable type of crying, feeling like I could do nothing right. I realize what I was experiencing is probably normal, and thank goodness the worst of it passed fairly quickly, but it was totally insane for awhile.
At the root of my haywire emotions (besides, of course, the hormones), I believe, was the loss of my control. For at least two weeks after we came home from the hospital, our house was full of visitors. ALL. THE. TIME. It was crazy. Jeremy and I would talk about how we were ready for things to calm down, to spend some time with our babies alone, but we felt powerless to deny people the opportunity to come visit. Some were a help, coming not to fawn over our babies, but to make sure we ate, to wash our clothes, wash bottles and sheets and changing pads...you know, the endless things that have to be done to keep a household running. Those people were truly, truly appreciated. Others, I felt like I was expected to entertain, and even worse, to hand over my babies to hold and coo at. I hated it. I would very often retreat to the shower to cry or to the bed to cry and nap, the whole time feeling resentful that visitors drove me away from my precious babies. (I realize some of this sounds harsh, and if any of my visitors are reading this, you may very well have been an appreciated and welcomed one...I am just honestly recording my feelings as they were then.)
The control was gone in so many ways during those first few weeks. I needed help. That was (and is) the hardest thing for me to admit about having twins. Jeremy and I had said all along that we would not have anyone coming to stay with us when we came home, but when the time came to actually bring those two little squirming, pooping, screaming bodies home, we were terrified of being left alone. Absolutely terrified. I've said it before, and I'll say it a million times over, my mom is an absolute angel. She saved us. She took 3 am shifts so many nights, and even though she was as sleep-deprived as we were, she made sure we got some semblance of rest and that we were clean and fed (that goes for the girls too!). But again, it terrified me that I needed her so badly. I had to accept help, and therefore, I felt out of control of my own life. I felt guilty that she was having to work so hard taking care of all of us, but at the same time, I was afraid of what madness might ensue during the three hours she was gone home to get fresh clothes.
None of us-me, Jeremy, my mom-could have imagined what those first days would be like. Maybe if I had had a child before, I would have known a little better what to expect, but I honestly still don't think it could have prepared me. There were two of those tiny little creatures, each as demanding as the other, both needing more than I felt capable of giving. Life was hard there for awhile, y'all. We said many, many times in those first few weeks that no one who had not walked this same road could possibly understand. People would come over during the day, when naturally, the babies seemed to sleep soundly and peacefully between each feeding, and they'd be like, "Oh, this isn't so hard. I don't know why y'all look like death warmed over..." (and it's true-I watched as the shadows under my eyes grew darker and darker, something I've never seen on myself before). I fell asleep in the middle of doing something for the first time in my life...I was ordering diapers on diapers.com, and just dozed right off sitting straight up in the chair. Unless they were in our house for 24 hours straight (which would only be me, Jeremy, and mom), they just couldn't understand.
I worked so hard to get us on a schedule those first few days. Maybe too hard, but maybe not. The schedule ended up working well for us and making life easier in the long run. But at first, I was so worried about doing the right thing at the right time and not starting any bad habits (sleeping in our arms, eating little tiny amounts here and there instead of finishing a bottle at feeding time, etc.) that I put even more pressure on myself. I felt like if I slept too long, things might get off schedule or someone might do something I couldn't reverse. It was like everything had to be done just so, and I was the only one who would make sure it was done that way. As if the pressure of two new babies entirely dependent on me wasn't enough, I had to add more by worrying about creating bad habits at five days old! Our pediatrician helped immensely the first time we saw him. We mentioned that the only way they had slept any significant amount of time the night before was in our arms and that someone had gotten a bottle during the night when they wanted to let me sleep a little longer. I expected him to say we should work on getting them in their crib, not to let them get used to it, lest we be stuck with six-month olds who refuse to sleep. I expected him to encourage me to hold off on bottles and formula and work on nursing and supplementing by dropper. Instead, he said the most blessed words I could have heard at that time..."You do whatever works." It was like part of the weight I was carrying lifted off my shoulders-I wasn't failing horribly, at least not yet.
I can't pinpoint a time when things suddenly got better. Instead, we all gradually adjusted to one another-the babies adjusted to us, and we began to adjust to life with them. Some days were a little better than others, then a lot better, then there were a few more of those better days. We all found our footing. I still cried a lot, and I was still a hot mess of emotion much of he time. I still feel a little guilty (and probably always will) that we relied so heavily on my mom to help us through those days, but I've come to realize that even though it was hard, she did not resent doing it because I'm her daughter. They are her granddaughters. Hopefully, one day, I'll get the chance to pay it forward and do the same for my girls. That's what it's all about, isn't it? There were hard times, sometimes unbearably hard and we wondered if we'd ever feel like halfway decent parents, or even feel like halfway normal human beings again-whether we'd be able to recognize the people we once were. There are still hard times, but now they're more likely to be hard hours or hard moments, not days or weeks. I do recognize some of my old self, but I also realize that neither Jeremy nor I will ever be the same again. We went through the hardest days we've yet had to face, and we made it.
I am convinced God is laughing at me for ever thinking I had any semblance of control over my life at all, and He's proving to me daily that I can't control things all the time. In a million ways, He is using these girls to show me that sometimes I just have to let go and trust that He will take care of us. Maybe one day I will get it...after all, He's done well so far, no? : )