I was asked to speak at a community event and share a story about a phase or transition I made. The story I shared was about the time the proverbial “poop” hit the fan, when I learned I was pregnant with twins.
Have you ever had a moment in your life where you could see how your life was going to be, and then in just an instant it all changed forever?
It could be something good like meeting the love of your life for the first time, but my story did not start happy. My unique experience took place four years ago in the doctor’s office. I was there for my first ultrasound appointment about 12 weeks into my second pregnancy. I was ready to see the little kidney bean shaped baby on the screen but everything changed when my husband gasped and said, “Oh my G-d, there’s 2.” Up until that moment I had a vision of what my life would look like and in one singular moment, everything I knew blew up in my face. TWINS?! It felt like the earth stopped moving and I simultaneously burst into tears and laughed in sheer shock and disbelief. Ever the pragmatist, my husband immediately started talking about how we needed a bigger house, bigger car, and new jobs (to afford double the baby we planned for).
My mind was racing. Two fetuses? How could this be happening? (Well, I know how it happened.) How is this possible? What does this mean for me, my husband, my young daughter, our growing family, and ultimately these twins?!
My life felt like a strange practical joke because I always envisioned having one baby at a time. hen I learned there were twins, the security I felt in being a second-time mom vanished. I was back to square one as the first-time mom to twins, and I really struggled accepting the seemingly impossible.
This transitioned me from relaxed experienced mom to frightened mom unsure of the future.
I even felt conflicted wanting 2 babies because I was scared for their health.
I work at the local children’s hospital and I know more than the average person about the complications and lifelong conditions of a high-risk pregnancy and premature delivery. Just being pregnant with twins puts someone in the high-risk category. As a hospital employee, I went from being a colleague in the Maternal Fetal Medicine department to a patient. Well, actually 3 patients in 1.
In the end, I knew I was on this journey no matter what happened next. Therefore, I chose to focus on what I could control, like where I would receive my prenatal care. I felt relief in receiving the best care in town from highly trained and brilliant doctors and friends at the hospital I love dearly.
I also found a lot of support from my friends throughout my pregnancy. They were happy for me, but also recognized my fear and reticence to celebrate something I was more fearful of than overjoyed to experience.
My friends gave me the emotional space I needed to process this major shift in my life.
I draw much of my strength, love and support from my friendships, as they are the bedrock of my life. Additionally, my friends provided tangible support by changing their travel plans to make sure they were in town the month the babies were due, and then physically travelling over 800 miles to lend a helping hand. One friend flew in from Philadelphia to stay with my oldest daughter when I went to the hospital. Feeling like she did not get enough quality time with the babies, she flew in again a few weeks later, all this while she was pregnant with her second child too! Another friend even mowed our lawn, which was major because mowing is our least favorite chore!
One of my greatest lessons was accepting help when I felt so incredibly helpless.
Our society prides itself on individuality and internal reserve. I was drained and sleep-deprived and I had to learn to accept help from others if I was going to survive and help my new family of 5 thrive.
Being vulnerable is truly a sign of strength.
When I felt I was at my lowest, my friends came and lifted me up (and washed dishes)!
The greatest support undoubtedly came from my husband.
My husband was physically and emotionally present with me throughout this journey and years later I continue to discover different ways he supported me. I continued to work full time right up until the day before I delivered the babies. This may make me sound like some sort of pregnancy superhero, but the truth is going to work was the only thing I could handle doing.
My husband was the real superhero on single dad duty. He took care of our toddler daughter while I did my best impression of a beached whale every day after work. I often took an after-work but before-bedtime nap. He cooked, cleaned, and put our daughter to bed while I grew babies from the comfort of our couch or bed.
Research shows couples who have multiples are at greater risk for divorce. Expanding your family with multiples puts real strain on a marriage if there isn’t solid communication, mutual trust and respect. In contrast, my husband and I are closer after having twins. Our gaggle of girls outnumber us, so we band together! All kidding aside, we have been in this together from the start, and this experience has bonded us in ways words cannot describe. My husband is my very best friend, partner, and soulmate and knowing I always have him by my side is one of my greatest comforts.
One of the most important lessons I learned was to accept my lack of control.
I let go of any illusion of control I had the moment I saw the twins. My body created these 2 little creatures on its own without medical intervention.
I gain strength in knowing the universe gives me what I can handle and need, but maybe not what I want at the time.
Moreover, I find solace in knowing the most unbelievably crazy thing has already happened to me in my life. Now I can handle whatever comes my way next!
Lastly, the universe chose me to have three babies in less than three years. I did not know it at the time, but being the mother to my three little girls was my destiny. My bashert.