Twins… what was I getting into?

Me: “Is everything okay in there?”

Ultrasound Technician “Yes, everything is okay… times two.”

Me: “Ummm, excuse me.”

Yes, this is how my twin journey began. It was quite a surprise and one I will never forget. I realize all twin/multiples pregnancies begin their journey in many different ways and each and every one are truly unique, but mine was the classic Hollywood portrayal of stunned parents-to-be who at 12-weeks-pregnant have just found out that they are expecting not one but two babies.

Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy and I had NO idea how I was going to handle taking care of two babies at the same time. See, I was not a rookie mom, a few years earlier I had given birth to a daughter who was the star of our lives, but also demanded a lot of our attention. To be honest I wasn’t even sure if we could have handled bringing another baby into our family without losing our minds. I felt like I was still emerging from the new mom fog and I am ashamed to admit it but I may have googled “how to know if you should have another baby” one too many times. Alas, when we finally decided to give it a shot it didn’t even cross my mind that it could be a double shot.

From a mom of one to expecting two babies, dealing with a twin surprise by Fallon Melander and Nesting Story

So you can imagine how unprepared I felt. From things like strollers, car seats, bassinets and high chairs we needed to either buy new items or in the case of my car we had to upgrade to something larger that would fit three car seats safely. The economic impact alone of having two babies at once was a hard pill to swallow, and still is. But I can tell you the emotional and physical impacts for me were even harder. Extreme nausea, fatigue, joint pain and swelling combined with anxiety, fear, anger and panic kept me up all hours of the night. I read every book, joined every twin mom group and scoured the internet for all the information. But as prepared as I may have been the deep seed of the unknown began to weigh me down. That is until those babies were born. I did not have an “aha” moment during my pregnancy nor did I find a sense of calm. It wasn’t until those two babies were in my face with their perfect little round faces and tiny little bodies did I see the true miracle that was twins.

I was surprised with two babies and became a twin mom by Fallon Melander and Nesting Story

I hope to share my birth story and personal twin journey with you all soon but I really wanted to share my true side of finding out and processing a twin pregnancy and beyond. I hope this provides any of you who may be beginning your multiples journey or those in the midst of it some comfort that it is not all rainbows and butterflies. That fear and anxiety is okay and you are not alone. It does get better and it does get easier in other ways. Reach out to other twin mamas for support, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and know you are stronger than you think.

I was chronically busy and it had to stop

busy mom

“How are you?” a friend asked me at a conference a couple weeks ago. I could feel an inner push and pull as to how to answer this question. I had just checked into the hotel and was crossing the threshold from frantically getting deadlines done, making lunches, breaking up my kids’ fights, and keeping my home afloat, to two days away, to take a minute, reflect and reassess.

“Truthfully,” I started, “I’m burnt out.” I immediately felt guilt bubble up inside of me, scolding me for complaining about life, when I had it so good on paper. My business was booming, my kids were healthy and doing well in school, my marriage was solid and my house was in the midst of getting much needed upgrades and renovations.

But then if you scraped just below the surface, you’d see that my work was so busy that I was neglecting myself and my kids, leaving my body feeling tired and out of sorts, and my kids edgy and vying for my attention. Although date night was keeping my marriage copacetic, Mike and I have been craving more day to day free time to play with our kids and be intimate with each other.

And then there’s our house, oh our house… every room told a story. Whether it was my dining room table, unrecognizable under the boxes of products, random fall and Christmas decor scattered throughout leftover from hosting and filming videos, or my seven-year-old daughter’s room, so messy it was begging for little critters to find it, each room was screaming “I NEED ATTENTION.”

As I continued answering my friend’s harmless question, I heard myself robotically say, “works crazy, and life is a bit off balance, but that’s a good problem, right?” a nervous giggle followed.

“Not always,” she replied.

As I sat in on inspiring panels, and delighted in a mid-afternoon nap, (which only happens when I am away at conferences), it became clear what I had to do going home.

I had to fight for balance.

Balance, less stress, less frantic, how ever you want to put it, wasn’t going to walk up to me one day and say, I’m here! No, it was up to me to fiercely fight for time and to create a life which is less busy, but more manageable and healthy.

So, how am I going to fight for what I so desperately need?

I am going to say no.

I have a lot on my plate between now and Christmas. Social gatherings and work commitments and piling on top of each other. Now, it’s one thing to properly tackle what you have committed to. It’s another thing to close the flood gates and say, “I’m at capacity.”

I am going to drop perfection.

I can tend to have this personality that is very all or nothing. As a kid and teenager it made me tip into the “I don’t care” category, leaving me failing classes and skipping school. But as an adult, it’s tipped the other way. Perfection with work, neglect with myself and home. I will leave a little on the table when it comes to work. Know that I am putting my heart into everything, but quitting the second guessing and the tinkering and just get on with it.

I will make plans.

We’ve booked a BIG vacation. I will document it all, don’t you worry. But what this has done has created a hard end date to my busy schedule. I will take time off a hit the reset button coming back.

I will stop wasting time.

I know, I was squeezing them lemon pretty hard. But guess what? I have been setting my alarm pretty early each morning and doing a pathetic workout and playing on my phone. But today was different. I went to a 6am fitness class where I was held accountable and phones were not allowed. I plan to go to these classes every weekday.

I will stick to my work hours.

Although I may have to still do some work on the weekends due to the nature of the projects I am working on, I will stop working after my kids get home from school and shift into mom-mode. Even if I am not entertaining them, (which isn’t my job), I can be a listening ear while prepping a healthy dinner, making lunches, or tidying up. Actually my kids seem happiest when I am occupied with mom tasks instead of sitting at my desk, shut away in my office.

It’s been a week now since pledging these changes to myself amidst this busy season, and I am happy to report that the “frantic” is gone. Life feels more manageable. I will never get it 100%, but who does? What matters is a calm has come over me and my family. We have slowed down. That burnt out feeling has dissipated.

I am fighting for balance.

 

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Twins, four kids, the truth and why I’ve been afraid to say this out loud

A note to my readers… I have been sitting on this post for almost a year. I wrote it after a particular trying season, while taking a minute to breathe just outside of my daughter’s dance class. I was resistant to share it. Maybe because I needed the clouds to part. Although this still rings true when things get tough, it’s not such an overwhelming sensation anymore. I have updated my kids ages to reflect today. I hope that with sharing this piece, a mother somewhere might feel a little less alone.

Mother and four kids
Christmas portrait with twins and older siblings

I am about to talk about something that is an almost constant thought of mine. It is something that I think about often and I have only said out loud to three people before in fear that when I utter the words, I might not be understood. That I might be judged, or told that I am not grateful.

But I have decided to say these words out loud because I might not be the only parent of multiples to think this.

Maybe you will get it.

I’ve written a lot about our journey, from the moment we found out we were having two babies, to preparing for their arrival and babyhood with two. But the older our twins get, the less I feel I am going through twin-specific phases and the more I feel like we just happen to have two kids with the same birthday.

Truthfully, I forget I have twins half the time. But every once and a while, when we are in a pressure-cooker-situation, like trying to pop into a store and both of my four-year-olds melt down and they are too big to scoop up easily to abandon ship, I remember… oh yeah I have twins!

I should mention to anyone who is new to my blog, that I have two older kids too. An nine-year-old and a seven year old. Which as you can probably imagine, is a very busy life.

So here it is…

There is this sense of relief when I remember I have twins. The fact that I never had the choice to ease into four kids. The fact that I never had three kids and thought, let’s have one more.

Because in those moments, where I feel completely outnumbered and overwhelmed, I find comfort in the fact that I did not choose to jump from two to four.

Now before I get in too deep with this confession, I want to say that moms with four kids, or multiples are not “more of a mom” than moms with one, or two, or three kids. Moms with one kid have their own set of challenges, I get that. In fact I often tell parents that one was WAY harder than four, (no built in playmates, everything is a first, and there’s too much time to overthink every decision).

But we are busier. It’s a mathematical fact.

We have to bring four kids in from the car, who are cranky and hungry and just want to challenge us. We have to do four bedtimes, with four different sleep challenges. We have to satisfy four different appetites and keep track that each one ate at least something other than bread each day. We have four yearly dentist, doctor and eye-doctor appointments. Four different school and friend challenges… and the list goes on and on.

Every fall, here in Canada, we have to track down four sets of mitts, hats, winter coats, boots and snow pants, whether its digging through hand-me-down bins, or running from store to store not settling until you find snow pants with reinforced knee-patches, to save yourself a mid-winter shopping trip.

So, there it is. That’s the truth. It’s out there now.

But here’s the good thing… I wouldn’t have it any other way. I may have not chosen this path to four children, but I am so glad that I was dealt this hand.

Being a mom of four, and twins, has forced me to grow in ways that without my children, I would have never done. It has made me realize that it’s okay to give myself grace when I’ve had a rough day, and be kind to myself when it all feels like a lot.

On the hardest days I, ( after sometimes loosing my cool a little), will remind myself that letting go of perfection, and loving my family fiercely is almost always the solution.

I’m actually enjoying Christmas vacation… well, so far

toddler playing with doll

I am a routine freak. I don’t try to hide it. I need my routine. When pulled out of it, even for a weekend, I unravel.

But here I am, Thursday December 28th, and I am intact, mentally sound, and have not crumbled. Not even during the three straight days of family events, (some with two events per day). Nope, I’m as cool as a cucumber over here.

At least for now.

Maybe this is the sign of the times. I have emerged from the baby haze and can actually cope with life. Okay, okay, our twins went back to full-time daycare yesterday, so maybe I am cheating just a little. But hey, I have learned what works for our family, and I am taking full advantage of childcare so that Mike and I can spend some rare one-on-one time with our big kids.

Christmas morning

Despite the plethora of toys our kids were given for Christmas, I have still heard, “I’m bored,” already at least ten times. My response… saying you’re bored buys you a ticket to play in the mounds of snow in our backyard. This redirects them pretty quickly, especially since it is -23° C outside here in Canada.

So, I survived Christmas. It was pretty great actually, despite some kids getting over colds, and Beau having a bad fall on Christmas morning. It was mostly magical. I’ve added our last couple vlogs below in case you want to catch up on our Christmas vacation.

Fingers crossed I keep going with the flow, and can survive the next week. But for now I am going to enjoy the all-day pj rule, the midday movie outings (we saw Wonder today, it was incredible), and Mike and my evening movie dates enjoying our new basement home theatre.

kids playing

I hope you are surviving the holidays too, and are finding the unstructured days manageable. Fingers crossed!

Why I do what I do and the mistake I made when I became a mom

making cookies

For me, before becoming a mother, I thought motherhood was my end game. In fact for the first few years after becoming a mom, I gave up my identity thinking that is what a great mother does.

Instead that made me miserable, resentful and dull.

I realized that being a great mom meant finding my own path and still having my own identity, so that I am happy and joy-filled, which spills over to my kids and husband who I love fiercely.

Years later I made myself a promise as I lay on our couch, growing two babies inside of me, feeling my identity slip away once again…

twin pregnancy

I would live life fearlessly and share my journey with others.

My hope is that my family can connect with moms who are trying to find themselves again, who wonder if it’s okay if she takes her own path. Moms who are finding their journey very different and a little more terrifying than they anticipated. Parents who are lonely and just want to feel a little more normal. Moms who are lying on their sofas, growing life inside them, not knowing what is about to come.

I am so excited that I am now sharing my journey on Baby Center’s YouTube channel as well. Check out our first video and don’t forget to subscribe to Baby Center and hit the notification button so that you don’t miss a video!