In December, I got a call from a high school student who is doing a Sociology project on Multiple Birth Parenting. She
asked many questions and interestingly enough they all seemed to be related to stress.
I've been thinking a lot about that ever since. We are a group that lives with stress hourly, daily and beyond. But how
well are we doing?
The stress of multiples, sadly, is really only appreciated by those of us who experience it first hand. I can remember
as a new parent of twins thinking angrily someone needs to do something about this-nobody told me it could be like this-our
government should be giving us compensation or something.
I believe it's called twin shock and believe me, I still sometimes suffer from it! Stop the insanity I want to scream
to anyone who would listen. But like the rest of you, I suck it up and carry on for the sake of my kids.
Some of the areas I was asked about are:
Financial Stress. As new parents of singletons are off buying baby paraphernalia for one baby, we get to multiple it out
and watch our credit cards skyrocket. Ka Ching. After the major stuff is purchased like beds, dressers, strollers etc. then
comes clothing. It’s not so bad when they are little and the baby showers cover the basic needs, but as those babies
begin to grow, watch out.
Heaven help you, should you become infected with the doll play I got caught up in along the way. I was playing with my
live dolls, dressing them in matchy pooh outfits, because it seemed it was the only fun I had. That is when I discovered
the LMBA Spring and Fall Garage Sale.
Finally I got it through my head that an outfit worn once or twice by another baby doesn't give "cooties". To
my joys as I was learning this humbling lesson, I discovered that there are even items in the sale that still have price tags
on them! We've all had that happen to us. A gift that was given but didn't match the current season when the outfit finally
fit. So the only thing to do is sell it at the sale.
Physical Stress. How many of you pulled muscles in your arms or back carrying around your arms full of children? How often
did you lay down from exhaustion on the floor or the couch only to see multiple flying babies diving straight for you? Of
course there is the group hug where one rowdy child throws back her head and breaks your nose. Oh the pain! Then my favorite
one, eternal lack of sleep. I knew if I could just get some sleep I would cut my stress level down low enough to deal with
all the rest. I can only say that sleep training saved my sanity.
Emotional Stress. I was never a yeller before multiples. But sometimes it seemed that nobody was listening or they couldn't
hear me so I turned it up a notch or ten. Not the way to nurture a happy household. I sometimes still struggle with this.
I've discovered that when I'm about to blow, a planned activity cools things off. It might be a craft in their highchairs
or stirring and pouring ingredients while making cookies. Also if you can separate them into two different rooms or if your
partner or an older sibling can occupy one, they can't play off each other.
Have you ever found yourself talking to a friend, when all is calm, and words won't come to your mind? Sometimes I feel
like I had twins and lost my mind or at least my memory.
All in all, calm is good. If you can get away for a short while, your perspective can change greatly. I've heard it called
a Mommy Timeout.
Marriage Stress. This one concerns me. I can recall my husband and I freak out about the dumbest things. In the heat of
the moment, I can remember thinking, "Jerk"! I mean this is my life partner and some how a couple rowdy kids and
any of the above stressers can change my opinion of him. If I don’t take the time to reflect, I could let that grow
and fester till I really believe my stressed out opinion of him.
We had these kids and I mean struggled to get these IVF kids because we wanted a family. Not, "I wanted a family",
but he and I together because we are a team, and we need to never forget that. All of us need to remember where we began as
a couple and the life we created for ourselves.
Keeping a marriage alive takes work. It may be just taking the time to stay connected that will make the difference. In
our house we still try and go on dates. Sometimes that just means, on a hard day, going out for hot chocolate at Tim Hortons.
In fact, the last time we had one of these one hour escapes. I was sitting in a booth and a little face appeared over the
back of the booth. Then a matching one appeared beside it. We were getting away from our twins and the couple behind us were
just getting out with their young toddlers for a change of scenery.
I think the bottom line here is that marriages go through seasons. For us it's been a long winter since the twins were
born. But there are signs of spring. Take for instance the chicken pox. They usually come in the springtime, but our twins
look more like little leopards then themselves right now. To make matters worse, their older sibling hasn’t had
the chicken pox yet. Ugh.
But this fall the twins will go to school half days. If that isn't spring I don't know what is. In two years, when they
start grade one it will be glorious summer!J
Seriously, I know we can all get through this. It was a rude awakening via an email that jolted me back to eternal gratitude
for all that has blessed my life. After an LMBA Executive meeting I received an email telling me that one of our new members
had just lost her twins. My heart broke. I walked the dog at midnight and thought deep thoughts. When I got home I looked
in on my sleeping kids and they really did look like angels. I hugged them a lot that week and felt deep sorrow for the parents
of the deceased twins.
I just know that no matter how much stress will come my way, I am going to make this a loving family and I will protect
the sanctity of this marriage with everything I've got. I know summer will return. Hang on with me.