Lucky Number 2

me and girls oct 2012My twin daughters, Eve and Lily, are 14 months old. I spent the first 12 months of their lives in a state of euphoria. Don’t get get me wrong – I’m a Single Mother of Twins – it was hard, but I felt and continue to feel that for every “part” hard it was at least 3 parts amazing and awe-inspiring. Toddlerhood has been tougher. I remain in awe and in love, but I also find myself feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and scared that I suddenly won’t be able to handle the next challenge.

As I look deep inside myself at this past year and forward to the years to come, what I feel more than anything is… lucky. Pure, found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, LUCKY.

I did not ask for twins. Ok, more to the point, I did not want twins. I knew there was a chance but I didn’t think it would happen to ME. When my RE transferred two embryos I thought – is that enough? I was 38 and my chances of a single pregnancy with 2 embryos seemed so slim. So when she told me I was pregnant with twins I was shocked. I spent all 37.5 weeks of my pregnancy petrified. I imagined a life filled with constant struggle, chaos and exhaustion.

I knew I would love my children but those children were ONE entity in my mind. The variable that I couldn’t imagine was how much I’d love EACH of my children. I couldn’t picture two separate people and the unique love I would one day feel for each of them. I can’t imagine my life being this full without the contribution of each of these special individuals and their unique personalities. When people ask me, and they often do, “are their personalities different?” I realize that they don’t get it. I understand though, neither did I! I’m expected to sum it up with something like ” yes, Lily’s outgoing and Eve is more shy.” But that won’t do. They are two completely different people – each with infinite attributes that combined make up their unique, beautiful and complex personalities – which, yes, are different. And I am lucky enough to know, love and care for them BOTH! I was given the gift of twins. A gift I didn’t realize I wanted or needed but was lucky to receive nonetheless.

Having a child as a single mother is challenging and having the support of family and friends is crucial. In this respect I again feel I’ve lucked out. I have an incredible family without whom I would be lost. They are my constants. My girls have brought us even closer through our shared love and care for them. What I did not expect was that as a mother of twins I would be given access to the tremendous community of parents of multiples. When I bump into another parent or parents of twins we delight at connecting with another member of our community. There’s a prevailing sense that we are all routing for each other. You’d be hard pressed to find a town or city without a multiples club. Never before have I felt more a part of a community or felt less alone in my often scary journey. Especially as a single mother by choice, I’m so very lucky that being a mother of twins put me in a position to have access to so much shared knowledge, support and community.

Additionally, because so many twins are the result of fertility treatments, groups of families with twins tend to be made up of many different kinds of families – older parents, gay and lesbian parents, single mothers and fathers, children who are the product of sperm or egg donation, surrogacy, etc. The friends I’ve made and the community I am building for my children is one that is made up of so many wonderfully varied types of families. My hope is that these relationships will help strengthen their confidence and ease about their own differences. It has absolutely done so for me.

So yes, while the unknowns of toddlerhood and beyond scare me and sometimes keep me awake at night, I know that I won’t be alone in my journey. I’ll be with my wonderful girls, Eve and Lily, and the tremendous community that being their mother – a mother of twins – has made me a part of. I’m damn lucky.

Susan Feigenbaum

11 thoughts on “Lucky Number 2”

  1. My twins were conceived from my one and only IUI attempt as a SMC. I was shocked and honestly, unhappy about the possibility of having two babies. They were born at 34 weeks, I had major medical complications and we were all in the hospital for two weeks. Five weeks later, I had to return to work. I barely remember their first year, only a constant state of extraordinary, nauseating fatigue.

    They will be 14 in November. Years 2 through 14 have been delightful. When I see mothers with twins now, I point out my lovely two and try to reassure them that they too will survive.

  2. I have twins also, and I too feel very lucky to have them. Thank you for your beautiful article. Although I will say we have had very different experiences. Although I loved my babies and was fiercely protective of them as infants– a total Mama Bear — I hated infancy. It was so hard. It was so awful. My boys would not sleep, and I often went through 48 or 72 hour periods with less than an hour of sleep. In fact, I doubt I averaged more than three hours of sleep a night the whole first year. I would not have made it without the constant support of my parents and the one night of sleep every other week that my mom gifted me with by sleeping over and caring for my twins (usually on nights before I had an exam for my Ph.D. coursework). For me, each year since has been filled with it’s unique challenges, but each year gets easier and easier (they are 4.5 years now). I connect more with my boys emotionally. We have more fun together. I sleep 7-8 hours a night. I am no longer giving 100% of myself to them and feeling like it’s not enough. Pre-school kids are fun and cool and independent and challenging, but I feel strong again. I hope each year continues to get better for you, too! If you started with a hard, but good infancy period, maybe you’ll be blessed with a hard, but fantstic early childhood period, too. I hope so! Thanks for sharing and all the best to you.

  3. And here is ANOTHER woman spewing the typical sentiment about loving the first 12 months: infancy.

    I, too, a SMC loved my daughter but that first year was awful – AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL. I had many moments in the first few months that I not only berated myself for having gone through with the IVF transfer but I even seriously considered giving her up for adoption and the idea that my friends and family would hate me is the ONLY reason she’s still my daughter.

    No, I didn’t have postpartum depression, I had clarity. I had a newborn that cried. Cried, cried, cried and cried some more. She hated to be cuddled. When I’d feed her, she’d go into a frantic cry until I could quickly stuff the bottle into her mouth. And after a short milk coma, she’d cry some more. Crying was her past time – like in some babies it’s sleeping. And holding her made no difference. She was restless and unhappy. I took her to the doctor constantly. I believed she was ill – something had to be wrong.

    But, mostly, I didn’t like my baby. I didn’t enjoy her and “euphoria” is about the last f—ing thing on Earth I would have described my first year with her. The first 6 months were just agonizing despair. I was sure I’d done something very awful in another life and this was karma being served up day after day.

    However clear the above may seem, it’s RADICALLY MILD compared to the reality of that awful year. I hated being a mother, I hated having a child, I hated my stupid decision to have one and I longed for the days before when I could sleep 8 straight hours and when mothering my little dog and cat were easy. I’d show them love, they’d respond by being cuddly and loving me back – not screaming and crying in my face constantly and refusing to be comforted by anything.

    I even had fantasies that she would die. Yes, there, I said it! I would never harm her myself – oh no – I had fantasies that a gas leak in my house would blow her bedroom clear off the house right into the stratosphere. The Pediatricians? “She’s just a baby who likes to cry – she’s perfectly healthy, no colic, gaining weight, no pain.” On one visit I saw a sweet, petite Asian female Pediatrician who put her hand on my arm and said “I understand” with dark circles around her lovely eyes. She, too, had a crier. In fact, her son was 10 months old and it continued. She understood. Thank God, I wasn’t alone.

    It was easier knowing I wasn’t crazy for being the ONLY MOTHER I knew who didn’t bask during this newborn period. I now wasn’t the ONLY MOTHER I knew who prayed constantly that time would stand still and that they could “enjoy” their newborn.

    When my daughter turned 8 months old, she crawled. THAT DAY the very dark ugly cloud of misery lifted from her head, and mine too. I immediately had a baby who was happy, giggly, joyful. Don’t get me wrong, she still cried as much as your average 8 month old. But that’s the point. It wasn’t excessive – it was typical. I could handle typical – that’s all I ever wanted, anyway.

    In the years since, what I learned is that I birthed a fiercely independent human being. And she was bright – to an exceptional capacity. She needed challenge and stimulation – not the kind you can get lying in someone’s arms or being coddled or with silly little objects to play with. She wanted to fly across the room and investigate and examine everything. She wanted so very much so very soon – and I merely didn’t know it. I couldn’t provide it and I couldn’t even imagine that’s what it was about.

    I had a little semi-prodigy who would never be satisfied in a dependent life.

    My daughter’s curiosity, ability to learn and fierce independence is mind blowing. She’s demonstrated it from the hospital nursery and it remains true as a toddler. She’s now loving, energetic, social and extremely talkative. But what stands out the greatest is how cognitively advanced she is. And I’m left with that as the only attribution to that very awful first year.

    I not only adore my daughter in her third year, I read with her (yes, she reads WELL), I play with her, she tells great made-up stories all day long, she loves her friends and playing outside. She is every single mother’s dream come true. But it was a brutally painful first year.

    As far as I’m concerned, newborns are for the birds. If you survive that first year, you’re in for wonderful times ahead.

    1. I also had a horrific first year or ummm, should I say several years. I wanted one and conceived three on Clomid alone. One never grew. Thank God. And I never ever would have thought I could feel that way. As the doctor showed off my sono to all his staff, I sat there feeling dizzy and wishing someone would support me before I passed out. I drive home in shock. Then the two surviving babies were born at 26 wks, had an extensive hospital stay, then came home with some serious medical problems. After a few months of barely being able to keep up with nursing, supplemental pumping, monitors, oxygen, therapists, numerous doctor follow ups, training for a new job position, etc. all on my own, I certainly had that “I guess this is what they mean by, you made your bed, now you have to lie in it.” feeling. My best friend told me SHE would LOVE it if she had twins and it would be easy for her. I had horrible, debilitating, post partum anxiety (depression). And to top it off, with a twin pregnancy, bedrest, hospital time, and now having to keep them home away from flu season, everything that was once part of my personal life was GONE. I didn’t have a “self” anymore. No painting, no gym, no dining out, no more guy I had been seeing through pregnancy… I didn’t get to ENJOY my kids until about age 3. I went through the motions, but still wasn’t feeling really well after the post partum issues. (actually was dx as PTSD…go figure) But the point is, I desperately WANTED to. It’s all I had wanted for so long. And, btw, got lucky with some super smart kiddos too. They are now 12 and I couldn’t be prouder. Both GATE students. She’s got strabismus and he has mild cerebral palsy, but can run the mile at school with his braces on, so hey! Not much holds him back. I feel blessed. Now next lesson, they grow up at an alarming rate from here on, so keep on enjoying as much as you can!

  4. I too have a lump in my throat. I am a single woman and love my 13 month old twin boys. They are significantly different from each other in looks, and personality. It’s so great.

  5. Thank you so much. Erin and Ella just turned 3 this last week and I have been feeling very overwhelmed. I am a single mother but not by choice and I didn’t know about my twins until labor. Five ultrasounds did nothing for me! I am so glad I have them but being 40 with twins is turning my hair grayer than I would have liked. They are so different and are like 2 mini me’s and also like their older sisters who passed in a car accident 5 1/2 years ago. I feel as if God brought them back to me.

    I feel recharged after reading your article and I can make it through the next years. Maybe not the teenage years but until then I’m good. Thank you!

    1. Kayla, I too was 40 and pregnant with twins after having placed my only other child for adoption when I was 21. Since then endometriosis left me thinking my chance was past and having twins is an incredible stroke of grace. My daughters are 2 years old now and I could not love them more….they are my world. This article really touched me also since today I am having a bit of a hard time and needed a recharge. Happy Easter to all!

  6. What a great article! A wonderful testament to the power of love and great parenting in every kind of family. I have so much respect for Susan – my husband and I often feel anxious, overwhelmed, and exhausted with our two kids and this is such a great reminder of how damn lucky any of us are who have happy healthy kids. Well done Suz!

  7. I love this piece. I have twin sons (they are now eight) and family support, and I also feel incredibly fortunate, of somewhat overwhelmed, at times. The school years are rougher when the homework and projects come due (after work, before dinner, etc.), but it’s SO very worth it and we are SO very blessed!

  8. I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat . I’m also a single twin mom of Ryan & Isabella 23 months. I was much older than You when I was given my gift of twins and feel so Lucky as you do. I love & cherish every minute when I’m with them and going thru all these stages. I’m blessed to have them, the community We have as You described, and My Family. Your article was wonderful thanks for sharing and all the best to You & your girls

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