I was terrified. I had never known anyone that had twins, especially not recently, and I had no idea what to expect... which is kind of par for the course when you're expecting anyway, but one biscuit in the oven is scary enough. Two is heart-stopping.
I knew I would be in for a rough ride, and I tried so hard to prepare myself. I read blog after article after blog and I called my mom a hundred times a month, I read "What To Expect When You're Expecting", I watched TLC's "A Baby Story". My best friend was pregnant at the same time I was, and her daughter ended up being born only a month before my boys, so I was fortunate to have her. It was like making a pact with a friend to work out more, or to stop smoking, only it was growing babies.
I learned a few things the hard way. I'm not sharing this information to educate anyone, because I'm sure most of you have already figured it out, or at least guessed as much. I'm sharing this because if you've experienced these things and felt the way I did, I want you to know that you're not alone, and you're a damn superwoman. If you haven't experienced these things, you're still a damn superwoman. Because you're a mama.
"Sleep when the baby sleeps" is a giant load of crap. Don't listen to people that tell you this. If you CAN and WANT to sleep when your peanut is sleeping, please do it. I could not. I was plagued by the thousands of chores and tasks that I needed to take care of, because I'm OCD and I couldn't stand it. Bottom line? Do what you want with that down time. Squeeze your blackheads. Binge on Netflix. Do the dishes. Pay the bills. Do whatever the hell you want, and whatever makes you happy, because you've earned it, mama.
Breastfeeding is great, but it is not for everybody. I struggled with this for a long, long time, and sometimes I still feel guilty. I am painfully envious of the moms that can make this work, and work well. I could not. I had a horrible infection after my C-section and I was forced to pump and dump the liquid gold while I was on medication, which hurt my heart. Three weeks later, my milk supply was garbage, and on top of that, one of my babies was tongue-tied, which made latching horribly painful and difficult. I tried everything to fix it, to give my babies what I thought they deserved: I took supplements, I took baths with them on my chest to encourage the latch, I slept about an hour a night trying to nurse them both as much as possible to kick-start my body in to mama mode, I went to a lactation consultant weekly, I pumped religiously, I did everything I was supposed to do.
Three months in, I finally was forced to give up, because at that point, the boys were exclusively formula-fed because my body just flat-out refused to cooperate. I sobbed and beat myself to a pulp over it. What if this had been a different era? My babies wouldn't survive, because I had failed at being able to nourish them.
But it's not a different era. It's now. We have wonderful, glorious formula, and my children thrived on it. They are in perfect health and have been since birth. They're also giant toddlers. I think the breast milk might have been a little too much on top of the formula, because they're over three feet tall and dwarf all other kids their age. Ha! The point is, mom-shaming culture shoves breastfeeding down our throats like it's the only thing that matters for our kids' health. It's not. If you can make it work, you're awesome. If you can't, you're still awesome, and don't let anyone freaking tell you otherwise.
C-sections are hell, and anyone that makes you feel like less of a mom for having one can suck it. I have plenty of friends who gave birth "naturally". Their recoveries were easy-breezy. Of course, they now had a shrieking, puking, pooping milkball to take care of, but they could do it without the battle of healing from major surgery and possible complications. That's awesome... I'm jealous.
C-section mamas are forced to take on twice the stress. The baby is hard enough for anyone at first, but have you ever had major surgery, abdominal or otherwise? It hurts to laugh. It hurts to fart. It hurts to pee, or move, roll over, sit up, lay down, sneeze, cough, poop (assuming you can that soon), it hurts to raise your voice. You have NO IDEA how often you use your abdominal muscles on a daily basis until someone has sliced through them and sewn them back together.
Spoiler alert: It's a freaking lot.
Schedules, especially with multiples, will literally save your sanity. Granted, any changes in schedules or routine took a little time to adjust to for everyone involved, but I'm telling you, FIND A ROUTINE AND STICK TO IT, no matter how many babies you have. I literally thought I was going to explode any time my schedule deviated even a bit, because I have horrible anxiety, but having a general routine at all was an absolute life-saver. When the twins were teeny-tiny, it was sleep, eat, cuddle, sleep, play. It was the same routine throughout pretty much the whole first year, with sleep gradually fading from certain points in the routine.
To this day, at three and a half years old, my boys cannot yet go without a nap and make it til bedtime, so we have a set nap time in the afternoon (they go down any time between 11am and 1pm, and wake up about 2 hours later), and we have a meal/snack schedule. They know it, and I know it, and it makes life just a bit easier while I'm spending the rest of the time literally pulling them down off the walls and picking up a thousand paper clips they stole at 2am and took to their room, or maybe cleaning up the juice that they chipmunked in their cheeks and then spit on their bedroom carpet where I couldn't see them at the time. Or maybe when they're trying to stick their finger in the cat's butt, or take their diapers off to pee on the dog (though they flat-out refuse to potty train). SCHEDULES. They leave you just enough sanity to deal with the rest of the cluster-mess!
You do not have to cherish and love every single moment. Nobody should expect you to, because you're a full-time zookeeper to a tiny, angry alligator that might be happily nomming on your boob while you wince in pain, or pulling the DVDs off the entertainment center shelves while she teachers herself how to pull up into a standing position, or crapping up his own back in that beautiful, brand new outfit your aunt bought him. You're allowed to be frustrated, and feel overwhelmed, and you do not have to smile twenty-four hours a day at the overload of cuteness galloping (or speed-crawling, or pooping, or whatever) all over your house.
Should you try to relish the happy, quiet, fun, exciting, and/or proud moments? Absolutely. Enjoy your little terrorist. But also take care of yourself. Retreat to your quiet place, whether it's somewhere inside your head or in the natural world. Read a book, watch a movie, take a nap, whatever... just don't feel like your attention should be 110% focused on your baby all day every freaking day. Don't neglect your kid... but don't neglect yourself either. You're allowed to be selfish, and you have to be, or you're going to go nuts. You're allowed to get annoyed with your kid; that's what they're made for. Don't feel guilty if you don't see every single moment of their lives as nothing but blessings and smiles and happy times. It's a whirlwind of ups and downs: embrace both.
I love my boys and I would die for them a thousand times over. I am incredibly grateful and fortunate to have had perfectly healthy, happy children, and I cannot imagine what some parents go through with serious health issues or even allergies, for crying out loud. My kids manage to make up for it by being tiny dictators, but I'm so glad that they're healthy enough to do it. But motherhood has not been 100% kind to me. I've dealt with PPD and a hundred other personal issues, in addition to behavioral and other issues with the boys. They scare the crap out of me.
The point is, I'm doing what I have to do to survive the free-fall down the mountainside of parenthood, and I'm making zero apologies for how I do it. I hope you'll do the same, and keep being super, mom.