When you have twins you quickly learn that while they are in the same boat, they are very different. The same can be said for Motherhood. We’re in this together, but my experience is unlike any of yours and visa versa which is why I wanted to showcase other moms of twins in a new series called Mother of the Month – or M.O.M. Once a month I will feature a kick-ass mom who will share her own experiences, in her own words. I could have also called this segment How I Keep my Shit Together, but M.O.M. was more poetic.
My first interview is with a woman who has raised 4 beautiful daughters (including twins) at a time when having multiples was rare and unknown. When I am overwhelmed I think of how she successfully raised independent and loving daughters with a man who has been her partner at every turn while creating a career out of her love of fitness (and “Madonna arms”). The fact that she has twins means she understands my journey at times when I do not and in the past 35 years I have turned to her for… well everything.
I’m excited to introduce my first M.O.M; my own mother: Debbie.
Q: What is your favourite thing to do on a Saturday/Sunday morning?
A: When I’m not teaching fitness classes on weekend mornings my favourite thing is to sleep in and laze the morning away.
Q: What was the last event you bought a ticket and went to?
A: Pink concert in Toronto last year.
Q: What is your ideal down-time activity?
A: That’s a tough question. If you asked Dad I’m sure he’d say drinking wine LOL! These past few months I’d have to say down-time has been walking the beach with Dad & the Twinkies, sunset family dinners on the beach, mother\daughter massages on the beach. Hopefully future down-time activities include all of the above!!
Q: Where is your “happy place” or “happy activity” right now?
A: As I’m writing this, my happy activity that takes me to my happy place is Yoga. It’s been even a happier place practicing in paradise with daughter #1 at my side and had a lil’ tear having daughter #2 beside me as well in last weeks class.
About the TWINS:
Q: How old are your twins?
A: They are 27 and the youngest of our 4 delightful daughters.
Q: Do you remember when you found out you were having twins? How did you feel?
A: I remember having an ultra sound and the technician turned the screen away from me and left the room. He returned with another technician and they pointed and talked to each other for a bit and then one left. I asked if everything was okay and if I could see but they wouldn’t show me anything. I asked if everything was okay again and he replied that I needed to make an appointment with my doctor and talk with him, that they weren’t at liberty to discuss the ultrasound. I remember being very concerned but back then things were different than they are now. The technician did reassure me ‘the baby’ was fine. I saw my doctor a month later and when he told me I was having twins I remember clearly saying he’s got the wrong woman, there’s no way I’m having twins!! He said yes I was and that it was such good news and showed me a printout, which is hysterical now that I think about looking at a printout. It said Twin A and a bunch of stuff that meant nothing to me, and Twin B in another column. I was shocked and left his office in tears. I drove around crying, overwhelmed, wondering how I was going to manage twins, a 2 year old and a 7 year old.
Q; How did Dad, your family and your friends react?
A: After I drove around crying for what seemed like days, I called Dad at work and asked if he was sitting down. He immediately replied, “we’re having twins” to which I cried!! He said he just knew it was twins and was extremely happy at the news. I can’t remember the reaction of friends back in Alberta, but the one couple we knew well in Ontario laughed and thought it was hilarious. They were excited about the news. I think shock and concern was the reaction of most of the family.
Q: Did you know many other people with twins while you were pregnant?
A: No. We had moved from Alberta to Ontario the year before so I didn’t really know many people at all. We did eventually join the Twin & Triplet club, which was a huge support.
Q: How different was it raising twins vs singletons?
A: OMG the differences are endless, where do I begin!!! Obviously it’s easier to care for one baby. Exhaustion with twins is over the top compared to a singleton. Breast feeding twins is a whole other topic and I remember it seemed like I was non stop feeding. When they started eating food it took both of us to feed, both to bath, change, dress, etc. With singletons you can do all that by yourself and not really need the help from your spouse. There are more diapers, more laundry, more food, double everything and way more expensive $$$$$$$. Travel with a singleton is a piece of cake. I remember trying to pack up to just go to the farm for the weekend and that in itself was a process not to mention the van was loaded to the roof. Dad and I were reminded of this when we did the trip to La Fortuna recently with the grand-twinkies. Van loaded, everyone squished between car seats, pack ‘n plays, stroller, luggage, and food but what a great trip!! Plus if you have older siblings and dress them all alike, like I did (whether they hated it or not) it’s the best!!! I remember our twins waking up and talking and playing in the morning and not screaming to get up, they had each other and were fine to wake up and just ‘chat’ until I came and got them. With a singleton they pretty much wake up and want to get up ASAP!!
Q: What struggles do you remember when they were young?
A: Trying to get a routine of breast feeding both at the same time and sleep to coincide with our lil’ 2 1/2 year old so that I could also get some rest and still have time with her and then with you when you got home from school was probably the hardest. You were in Grade 2 at the time so there was always homework, dance classes, skate lessons, Brownies, etc. to add to the mix. Dad worked shift work at the time and with not really knowing many people or having family to help, we pretty much did it all ourselves. I loved when he was on night shift ’cause I had so much help from him during the day and loved when he was on day shift ’cause he was so much help at night. You were all such great kids that although it was crazy busy we got through it. I think the difference might have been because I had 2 singletons before the twins were born, I was use to having babies, the struggle was more balancing myself between 4 kids and trying to make sure you all got our love and attention.
Q: What joys do you remember when they were young?
A: Double love, double hugs, double cuteness. The best memory both Dad and I have is their twinglish. It’s pretty awesome to witness how they understand each other’s babble. Twin A would babble to B and off they’d go to find a toy or look out the window or search for the cat. When I was potty training them, they still weren’t saying words and when one finally pee’d in the potty she babbled in twinglish to the other who immediately came to the bathroom babbling back and eventually pee’d in the potty as well. They pretty much potty trained themselves.
Q: What ways do the twins still surprise (and delight) you?
A: How they travel all over the world and we never know where or what they will do next. It’s always a delight when they come home!!!!
Q: What have you observed about their bond as they’ve grown?
A: Unlike singleton siblings, twins have a unique connection and I think its probably always evolving and changing. I know they’ve always wanted to be together and were comfortable and secure knowing they were together whether it was in a classroom or at a sleep over. As adult women, I know they miss each other and I think they’re excited to spend time together when they’ve been apart. I think most of us would like to have a twin and experience that unique bond. I would anyway.
Q: How has the reaction changed over the years as people find out you have twins, if any?
A: For the most part the reaction has always been positive. People love twins, twins love twins!! We did get a few, “better you than me” or “you’ll never sleep again” and lots of “I’m sorry for you” but most people think it’s pretty cool to have twins and I totally agree. We were in Belize 2 years ago with our Twin A and we met identical twin men on the beach. We got to chatting and one of them said he felt if everyone was a twin there wouldn’t be war.
About BEING A GRANDMA TO TWINS:
Q: How did you find out you were going to be a grandma to twins?
A: We were out of the country and had skype date first to tell us you were pregnant which we were thrilled!!! A few weeks later we had another skype date and Dad jokingly made a comment that maybe there’s two in there and your comment back was, “well actually there is!!”
Q: How did that feel?
A: Over the moon thrilled, overjoyed, best news ever and so excited!!
Q: Do the grand-twins bring back any memories of raising your own?
A: In the beginning when they were first born and I was there to help you and J, it reminded me of the endless non-stop hours and how totally exhausted you are at the end of the day. Things are so different today, we didn’t have internet and google and all the technology that’s out there. There was no bottle steamers and baby monitors or if there was I didn’t have any of them. I remember when you got the breast pump, electric of course, and me thinking about the manual one I had and the hours of squeezing that lil’ ball on the end of a plastic cone to get an ounce of breast milk. Hilarious really but busy is busy no matter what and with twins, anything to make life easier. Watching you raise your twins I’m reminded of how hard it was and is to balance and keep up with everything and still find time for yourself and each other. Throw into the mix that you’re living in another country, on this amazing adventure with them. You’re doing an incredible balancing job!!!
Q: Does watching me raise twins bring back any memories of your personal journey?
A: I think the difference with my journey was I had 2 other kids in the mix so there was always something else happening around what was happening with our twins. I do remember the feelings of being overwhelmed, scared, tired, teary and just always trying to balance everything. I watch you and J with your twins and see the support you give to each other and the great communication you have together and how you both interact with your babies and I’m amazed at how well you’re doing. It’s a hard job, no manual comes with it and we need to pat ourselves on the back sometimes for just getting through the day.
Q: What words of encouragement would you give other moms of twins?
A: Be kind to yourself. It’s okay to cry but try to laugh at things as well!! Cut yourself some slack, it does get easier and the reward is double love!! Think of yourself as pretty damn special, not everyone can have twins!!!
Q: And Finally: What was the best Halloween costumes your twins ever had?
A: Nothing really comes to mind from when they were little, they were everything from a princess to a clown I’m sure. The one that does stand out the most was when they were older: Wayne & Garth.
WE’RE NOT IN THIS ALONE!!
Each month we feature a mom of multiples and share how they handle life and all the unique situations that come with parenthood. Check out previous M.O.M posts here.