I hate to admit it, but I lowered myself to “high school Michelle” and found myself in a conversation with someone I met for the first time and I was actively one-upping her. I am embarrassed, but I must to let it out.
The scene: A family BBQ at a friend’s house. I meet their neighbor who is currently pregnant. Pregnant neighbor shares how sick she has been, how she feels like it could have been twins, but it’s one baby.
Michelle: “Congratulations on the pregnancy.”
Pregnant lady: “I have been so sick I thought I was having twins.”
Michelle: “Oh, you’ve been throwing up?”
Pregnant lady: “No, I’ve just been really nauseous.”
Michelle: “Well, I was seriously sick with my twin pregnancy. I was puking throughout the whole thing.” This is an exaggeration, I was puking for 34 weeks, and the last 4 weeks of the pregnancy were puke-free.
Pregnant lady: “Well, I’ve been dry heaving.”
Michelle: “Yeah, I dry heaved too. But I also threw up everywhere… while riding my bike, driving my car, picking my daughter up from day care.” No exaggeration here, it’s true – I puked my guts out in places I never thought I would. But why do I feel the need to one-up her?
What this highlights for me personally is how I generally get my back up when someone tries to join me in my twin experience. Having a bunch of kids in quick succession (like 10 months apart) is not carrying two babies at once. Also, birth spacing is important to ensure healthy full-term pregnancies for you and your baby. Unless you are the mother of twins, you do not have twins.
Well-meaning strangers want to acknowledge how cool twins are, but this goes much further than having two infants to care for because I will always remember the anxiety and fear I lived with throughout my pregnancy. Until week 24 of my pregnancy, I worried about a miscarriage. Once I hit 24 weeks, the babies were “viable.” This essentially means, they will survive outside of my womb, but they will need extreme medical intervention and their quality of life will include a lot of needles, tubes, ventilation, etc. and long-term developmental issues for life. Upon hitting the 24 week mark, I spent the next 4 months worrying about delivering early and the quality of life my babies will have if they survive at all. Twins are usually born early, they usually have issues, and they usually spend time in the NICU. People think it’s cute to talk about twins, but I found it very frightening.
This is all after the fact because my twins are here, they were born full-term at 38 weeks + 1 day. My goal was to get to 37 weeks gestation, so I have a happy ending! Yet, the gravity of my high risk pregnancy is not lost on me and I guess I get annoyed when someone tries to act like they have it “so bad” when I do not personally agree.
This highlights the point of perspective though. I don’t know if this pregnant mom is dealing with other health issues, and perhaps she has a lot of fears and concerns of her own she’s not sharing.
I failed to follow my own advice and just let it go. So, I’m clearly still working on this. I still fell into the, “Oh yeah! I had it worse than you!” trap and it’s OK because this mom wasn’t really listening to me anyway. By continuing to engage in the conversation, I was giving her reinforcement to continue one-upping me back. Instead of trying to one-up, I should have given myself a time out and walked away. Sometimes even the “positive parent” needs some positive parenting. Lesson learned: time outs are for adults too.