I’ve been thinking back on the early days with the twins, most of which are a complete blur. Having Peanut here and being able to enjoy all the little moments with him that I felt like I missed with the girls makes me a little sad (for missing out) and very grateful (for what I’m getting with him now–see, having another baby after twins is really wonderful!).
I often find my day-to-day very challenging. I have a four and a half-year old, twin almost-two-year-olds and a six-week old baby–that’s a lot of people depending on me! Plus I’m trying to improve on my housekeeping, keep up with a large vegetable garden, improve my eating habits (I’m about to take the 10-day real food challenge!) as well as manage the bills, get my daycare certification, become a breastfeeding counselor with Breastfeeding USA and blog (which I count among my “fun” things to do in my “free” time). But all of this is nothing compared with some of the challenges I faced and SURVIVED when the twins were young!!! Allow me to share a story…
When the twins were brand new my mother made trips back and forth to Maine every week or so to help out for a few days. I was grateful for the help because my husband had just (four workdays before they were born) started a new job an hour away that required him to work longer hours in addition to the long commute which basically meant he wasn’t home from wake-up time to bedtime. My father was in a nursing home in Maine and my whole family was well aware that he might live another few weeks or another few years so it was important for us to visit him as often as was possible and I brought the girls to see him when they were six weeks old. For that trip my mother came to Connecticut and drove up with me, leaving her car at my house, and then drove back down with me. It’s a 3.5 hour trip and Punkin had JUST decided to potty train which meant plenty of stops. I knew from experience that in 3.5 hours a baby will ALMOST sleep the whole way if you time it just right… but with two I was going to be pushing my luck even further because they were never on the exact same schedule.
So, I waited until the girls were four-month old, January in New England, to make the solo journey. I knew I’d have to plan things out well in order for the trip to go smoothly so I had thought through every possible scenario. I timed things out so the girls would need to eat the same time we needed to stop to use the bathroom and how I would juggle both babies and Punkin while going to the bathroom, feeding the girls, and getting food for Punkin and I. So here’s how it went down…
I knew at around the halfway mark there was an exit that had a Burger King that was usually pretty empty at lunch time and that had a small play area. I knew the double stroller wouldn’t fit in the bathroom and I wasn’t about to leave one of the babies sitting in the restaurant by herself so I knew I had to get everyone in the stall (thank goodness for handicapped stalls!!!) AND still have my hands free. So, I strapped a baby to my chest in a front-carrier, picked up a carseat in the one hand and held onto Punkin with my other. I didn’t count on the pouring rain but I just threw up the hood of my sweatshirt, stuck a hat on the baby in the carrier and Punkin and pulled the canopy over the other baby and made a run from the van to the restaurant.
We hit all fit in the bathroom but it was a little squishy in the stall. Those of us not wearing diapers took care of our business and then I held Punkin (around the baby on my chest) while he washed up. I got the two kids not strapped to me settled at a table and went to order some food. Punkin was always a great babysitter, even before his third birthday! The lady behind the counter offered to help me carry my tray but I declined, I’d been doing this juggling act for months after all! I got our food, the carseat and Punkin into the play area (which had a door to prevent kids from escaping but making it difficult to get in with full arms). Phew. We sat and ate and of course the babies wanted to eat too! Usually I nursed both girls together but I needed my fancy pillow for that and there was no way to do it discreetly so I opted for feeding one at a time. Unstrap baby from chest. Unstrap carrier and discard on a chair. Snuggle baby up and nurse. Keep an eye on Punkin and when he finishes his food set him loose on the play area. Without exposing an entire boob switch baby from nursing to burping position. Discreetly re-secure nursing bra while holding baby on lap. Since there was nowhere else to lay a baby (only one carseat came into the restaurant) unstrap baby #2 while balancing baby #1 on lap (one knee crossed creates a nice little nest for them to wait in). Balance baby #2 up on shoulder while hoisting baby #1 mostly 1-handed into the now-empty carseat. Nurse baby #2 then repeat the burping. Restrap carrier. Restrap baby into carrier. Strap other baby into carseat to avoid accidental spillage 🙂 Toss trash. Gather Punkin. Leave restaurant feeling completely elated and powerful.
Yes. I survived that.
Even though most things I did with the twins and Punkin were hard I felt great knowing I could do them. I did envy people with just one newborn and I often felt that people couldn’t fully appreciate what my moment-to-moment life was actually like. I “made it look easy” as I was often told or called Superwoman but I had no superpowers other than constant vigilence, adherence to a strict schedule rules (not to the clock but to the ebb and flow of the kids), planning down to the tiniest detail and, most importantly, knowing my limits.
But it was so worth it.
This is a picture of my oldest daughter and my father whom she is named after. He passed away a month and a half later.
This whole post was meant to be a funny little reminiscence but it’s brought back forcefully memories of my father. I’m so glad I took that trip and I wish I’d been braver a little earlier so he could have gotten to meet his granddaughters more than twice. This story has reminded me again how sad I am that my children won’t grow up knowing my father and that even my husband only ever knew the shadow of the man my father was when I was growing up. I love you dad.
Here is a link to the letter I wrote to my children about my dad and that I shared at his memorial service. It makes me cry just thinking about reading it.