Choosing to marry Sam was a decision that took forever to make (actually, Sam was 100% on board two weeks after we started dating, and it was me who needed much more time). Choosing to start a family was another choice that took months to make, and literally hundreds of late-night discussions and prayers and seeking guidance from people whose opinion we value most. Quitting teaching for now - same process. Choosing my husband's grad school program. Choosing to move our family to Arizona. To raise my husband's little brother for two and a half years. All these big choices in our life took months and months and months to decide.
Which is why I keep thinking about what happened a little over a year ago. The day we had the biggest surprise of our lives and learned we were having twins.
*Photos by Hillarie Mae Photography
It's one of those moments I think I'll always remember. I knew I was pregnant - and had been SUPER sick. This pregnancy felt SO different (read: harder in every way) from my last, so I thought it must be a boy instead of a girl this time? I also started showing at 10 weeks, which in hindsight was another fairly obvious clue.
The ultrasound technician was just so casual when she broke the news at my first ultrasound. Within five seconds, when everything on the screen was still grainy and blurry and grey to me, she said in an offhand manner, "You're having twins."
I laughed at her. "No I'm not," I assured her.
One second passed in silence while I stared dumbly at the screen. Then another one. Then another one. Then my brain caught up.
"Are you serious?! I'm actually having twins??! There are two babies in there?!?!?!? You're serious?" This went on for at least 10 minutes. I was crying and laughing and half sure it was some sort of elaborate trick.
More of the same absolute disbelief and shock and happiness continued when Sam and I called and Skyped our parents that night with the big news. And then we were up until midnight thinking about how crazy our lives were about to be. And then we both ended up awake again at 3:30am, lying in bed thinking about it more.
Because twins? They were NEVER on the radar. Nobody in my family has twins. We weren't using fertility drugs that increase the chance of twins. I thought about having twins the same amount of times I thought about the quadratic equation or how often luxury cars should be serviced or political elections in Indonesia. NEVER! I never think about any of those things, and I never ever seriously considered having twins.
For a major planner like me, it was a big scary thing. An incredibly exciting and happy thing, and something we didn't take for granted, but a big and scary thing nonetheless. Nothing had been accounted for. It was not in the plan, and all the implications were new and scary and huge.
We had to move. We really liked our two-bedroom apartment with the tall ceilings and the huge patio, but the thought of three small children on different sleep schedules sharing the same bedroom was just too much. So we moved to a place with a third bedroom.
We had to buy another car. We literally could not fit three carseats in the back of our Corolla (you should have seen us out in the 107-degree heat with three carseats trying all possible configurations though - it was a valiant effort), so we bought a van.
Sam changed his internship. He was looking at some really alluring out-of-state summer internships for his graduate program, but when we learned that we were having twins right in the middle of the summer (with insurance that only worked in-state) he dropped those leads and found a local internship instead.
And that's how the rest of my pregnancy went. It was a whirlwind of prepping everything, changing everything, and surviving modified bedrest. I couldn't wrap my mind around how to hold two infants at the same time, let alone how I was supposed to care for them (plus a toddler who would be barely two years old) while my husband was gone all day.
In short, a lot of time was spent stressing and planning for the worst and just trying to get through a terrible pregnancy. There were moments when I felt overwhelmed with love and excitement for the miraculous blessings that babies are, but to be quite honest my feelings were usually more practical, preparatory and pessimistic.
And then the twins came, and I got the biggest surprise of all.
I love it.
I love having twins.
Like, I really really love it.
I had forgotten how sweet the newborn smell is. I had forgotten how sweet the squishy, warm, cuddly newborn stage is. I had forgotten how much babies sleep when they're brand new.
Discovering the tiny, strong, amazing, different personalities that my twins had from day one was nothing short of amazing.
I also had so much more help than I had planned for, and that made all the difference. With my first, nobody ever came for more than an hour to help (we only had one child then and lived in the same state as our family so we saw them more often overall). With the twins, I had family staying with me around the clock and helping for the entire month of July, almost all of August, and a good chunk of September too. It was so fantastic. I got more sleep with newborn twins and a toddler than I ever had with my first simply because of all the great help I had.
It was also crazy how much more confident Sam and I felt as parents. We worried so much less about the tiny things. We already knew each other's parenting strengths and weaknesses and philosophies. Things like figuring out how to use a breast pump or how to bathe a tiny human with no muscle strength weren't huge deals because I had done it all before.
I had no postpartum depression this time around, and that right there has made the biggest difference of all in how I perceived and handled and felt about everything.
Was it still hard? YES. Very hard. Everything that's hard about having a baby is twice as hard when you have twins. Trying to plan our schedule around their naps (or else powering through naptime and dealing with two very fussy babies), trying to get a toddler to adjust to two babies who constantly need mom, trying to get the twins on the same schedule, trying to get one twin to sleep through it when the other twin fusses, and dealing with double the diapers and bottles and messes and spit up and sleep deprivation are all very real struggles.
But even so, even in the hardest of moments -- when all three children are crying, the floor is littered with spit-up rags, Sam won't be home for hours and hours, and I would sell my soul for one twenty-minute nap -- even then, I surprise myself with how much I love my twinners.
I can't imagine life without them. I can't even imagine them coming as singleton children, a few years apart. I can't imagine them not having their other half, their built-in best friend, their snuggle buddy, and the only constant they've ever known.
I love that they still hold hands all the time. I love that strangers are way more friendly and kind and talkative when you're out with twins. I love how different my twins are. I love that they balance each other out completely. I love that Claire has a brother and a sister. I love their tiny perfect little bodies and gummy grins and budding personalities.
So I guess the biggest surprises can also be the best ones. That or I should constantly brace myself for the worst so I'll be pleasantly surprised when things turn out better. ;)
Happy almost-six-months to my darling Lincoln and Addison. You are my greatest and happiest surprise.