Mothering is not for the faint of heart, and mother multiples along with singletons is a challenge like no other. I know of other families that have it “worse”, meaning they have more chaos than my own household. However, our household is a bit crazy.
My husband and I thought it wise to wait a bit to get pregnant with our first child. We wanted schooling to be done and work somewhat established. It was and still is a decision I am thankful for. In light of that decision, we agreed that we shouldn’t dawdle in having children once we get started. So we set out and had four children in 3 ½ years. Our first child was a feisty yet playful girl who had more rolls than our local Bread Basket bakery. About a year after her birth, we got pregnant again (intentionally). I had my first OB appointment and opted for the extra testing for possible genetic issues. I would never choose to change my pregnancy based on the results but am one that likes to know what is coming and plan accordingly. It was at that appointment and ultrasound that this OB expert casually stated that it was neat that I’m having twins. That was my first introduction into the world of multiples. Well, I take that back. I actually had a dream the night before that I was having twins. I blame that dream on my mother, who planted the seed that having twins would be fun! It isn’t an entire anomaly that I had twins, as I have a cousin and second cousin that both have sets of twins. We knew it was a genetic possibility, but I didn’t take that thought seriously.
Armed with the knowledge that I had two little beans growing, not just one, I traveled back home, met my husband, and showed him our first ultrasound pictures. He looked at it, smiled, looked at me, I look back at him, he looked at the picture a little bit longer, looked at me, I smiled, he looked back at the picture, stared a bit longer, furrowed his eyebrows, and asked “why are there two dots”? It is a funny moment that we both look back on and laugh.
After our boy-girl twins were a little over a year old, our sleep deprived minds came to the idea that we should have our fourth and final child. We have zero regrets on that decision. Yet, I am a very logical thinker and have come to realize how much I get overwhelmed by chaos and noise, so I am amazed that I felt ready to embark on the baby train again so soon. I do remember having the explicit thought that once we got out of the diaper phase and our children were sleeping better, we may never want to go back. So when our fourth bundle of joy was born, we had 4 children in diapers at once. For a period of time, our washing machine was always running with our Bum Genius cloth diapers. At some point, however, we realized that the cloth diapers couldn’t keep up with our use, so we returned to disposables.
Now, fast forward about 6 years and we have a very rambunctious household of inquisitive, smart, mischievous, and energetic children. What I believe might be different about our twinkies (our loving nickname for our twins) is that because we had their siblings so quickly before and after them, it is almost as if we have four children who are more peers to each other rather than at different developmental stages. We have rarely treated our twins as “twins”. Meaning we haven’t required them to always be together, didn’t often dress them the same, despite our use of the term “twinkies”, we don’t often refer to them as a collective unit, and they have their pick of playmates with their siblings that doesn’t have to be each other. I’ve noticed, though, that they do have a bit of a protective relationship- maybe moreso with my son towards his twin.
Every family has a slightly different (or drastically different) way they react to and treat their multiples. There isn’t just one way that is right, but understanding the dynamics in the family and determining the most healthy and loving way of helping multiple develop their identity is an important journey.
Sept 5, I will be talking with the Mothers of Multiples group in Cheyenne on the challenges and blessings of multiples. Come join us and let yourself hear the perspectives of other families in your community and take a new idea away to implement in your own home (whether with multiples or singletons).
~ Dr. Sheri Fluellen