Day 4: it takes a village {to raise twins}

I ended yesterday’s post with a promise of a “double edition” in order to catch up. But here it is, late Monday night, and I’m barely scribbling out part 2 of yesterday’s post. My default as an entrenched people-pleaser is to seek to make everyone in my life happy, and a really effective way to do this is to meet their needs. You’ve had a new baby and need a meal? I’ll be there. You need me to watch your kids for a few hours? Sure. You’ve got a problem and need to talk it out? Call me anytime. And the thing is – I really mean it. I really do want to be able to meet the needs I see. I know how wonderful it is to receive meal after meal after meal in the stage of new babies. Many friends have given me respite along the way by providing childcare when I desperately needed some time and space away from the demands of mothering. Family and friends who listen when I’m spewing out my heart ease my burdens by bearing it alongside me.

The trouble comes when I forget my limits and I overextend what my energy, life stage, and personality has the capacity to carry. And herein lies one of the hidden blessings of finding out we were going to be having twins: we knew that we would not be able to handle it alone. My husband and I often joke that we are both so stubborn that God knew it would take two newborns at once to bring us to our knees.

village two

photo credit:

This is where we went when overwhelmed with the reality of twins: to our God who bears every burden. And how did he answer? Through providing a village of family and friends who did amazing things to carry us through the difficult twin pregnancy and especially the first 4 months of having twins:

  • brought us meals three times a week
  • cleaned our house weekly
  • arranged a “Care Calendar” to facilitate all the volunteers
  • went grocery shopping for us
  • shopped at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and Target for me
  • assembled cribs, made curtains for the nursery, hung pictures, sorted through the baby stuff I needed (or not), washed baby clothes
  • partnered with us on home rehab projects: bathroom remodeling, painting, and crown molding to name a few
  • drove 3+ hours to IKEA in DC/Northern VA traffic and brought back a wardrobe for the twins’ room (I’m looking at you, Matt & Emma)
  • brought lunch to me during the 10 weeks I was on bed rest (spoiler alert)
  • listened, prayed, showered us with love and gifts for the babies-to-be
  • showed up to rock and feed the girls while a sleep-deprived mama slept or showered or if it was a *really* productive day, went to the grocery store

The oft-quoted, “God will never give you more than you can handle!” is actually (a) not true and (b) not in the Bible at all.

God gave us much, much more than we could handle by giving us twins, precisely so that we would begin to learn to lean on the help that was surrounding us – that we’d learn to live in the “village” in which God placed us.

A crucial part of being part of a vibrant village-like community is the ability to ask for and receive help, not only the ability to give help. And for this, I am thankful for the gift of God giving us more than we could handle by gifting us with twins.

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 3: exuberant joy becomes overwhelming shock

I can remember the day and the moment like it was yesterday. I also journal my way through life, so I have a convenient entry to remind me precisely when this moment occurred. It was a shift from “wow – I can’t believe the double miracle growing with me” and the fears of miscarriage (since I continued to have regular and unexplained bleeding throughout the first trimester) to one of overwhelming shock. Like shock that fills in every inch of every free mental space you have in the executive function area of your brain. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to manage twins day to day:

3/2/10 (8 weeks)

How will I possibly manage twins? The thought terrifies me, and the fear can creep in triggered by the simple fact of seeing another mom with her baby in the grocery store and then realizing I won’t even be able to do that by myself. They don’t make grocery carts for twin babies!

I think I’m being confronted with a season of dependence like I’ve never experienced in my adult life. I will need help. Seth and I will need help. We won’t be able to do this in our usual M.O. – self-sufficiency and independence. We will truly be dependent on our family and community of friends….

photo credit:

photo credit:

I now affectionately refer to this as “the grocery store moment.” If you’re a parent of twins, did you have a similar revelation of how different and uniquely demanding it would be to parent twins? What was it like for you? And what did you do in response? 

Today will be a double edition since I missed yesterday due to a much-needed deep purge and clean of five years’ worth of twin gear from our basement. And, yes, it has been as overwhelming as I thought and more so in many ways. But spoiler alert: we’ve made it so far, and so will you if you’re an expectant parent-of-twins or in the foggy zone of newborn-age 2 of twins. It gets better – let that be your beacon of hope as it was for me as you navigate this unique journey of parenting twins.

Tonight I’ll write about what I did in response to my overwhelming fear/shock of anticipating the reality of twins.

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 2: twin pregnancy, first trimester: nausea, exhaustion, and PB&J

If you were to ask my friends and family how they remember my twin pregnancy, you would likely get one of three answers:

  1. “Heather was always tired!” I vaguely remember the fog of deep exhaustion and the sleepless nights. It was such a bad combination – I would be exhausted all day, then could barely sleep at night. One Saturday early into pregnancy we walked around a museum with good friends who were visiting from Philly, and all I remember about that day is looking for the next bench on which to rest.  I was thankful that I didn’t have many counseling clients during those weeks because it was difficult to stay awake throughout the afternoon (much less make it past 8 or 9pm).
  2. “Heather ate ALL the time.”

“I remember she brought a cooler full of healthy snacks to our overnight women’s retreat. And she ate everything she brought.” -Maria

“We were signing closing papers, and Heather was eating a granola bar.” – our realtor, Jenn

“Every night, I had to make a PB&J sandwich and put it by her bedside table because she would wake up in the middle of the night hungry and nauseous.” – Seth, my husband

And it’s true. I ate at least hourly, and I would still be starving. It was incredible to try to keep up my caloric intake for two babies. My healthcare providers had conflicting opinions, which was confusing: my OB said to watch my weight; my midwife said to eat as much as I could, and then some more. I chose to follow my midwife’s advice. And I definitely put on the pounds. dr barbara luke twinsBut there were TWO babies, and I had read in my favorite twin-pregnancy-preparation book that the more calories you eat early on into your pregnancy, the better chance your twins had of fully developing before delivery.

2 – “Although Heather had it pretty good in terms of no throwing up; she hated the nausea the worst.” The constant eating was the only way to stave off the nausea and try to keep it at bay. It was counterintuitive to eat when I felt like anything but – yet eating effectively pushed down the nausea, at least until those calories wore off. Mornings were my best; afternoons and evenings the worst. I distinctly remember the evening that pregnancy nausea hit me head on: I found myself feeling increasingly queasy while watching Julie and Juliaa movie about Julia Childs. To the point that I couldn’t even think about that movie for months without my stomach turning. In fact, I don’t think I’ve watched it since – the power of negative associations. It started around week 8 and lasted until week 16. Which is *nothing* compared to many pregnancies, like my friends who were nauseous and vomiting the entire three trimesters. I felt like a wimp but I really hate the feeling of nausea, so this part of pregnancy was almost the worst for me. What helped me:

  • Jolly Ranchers for the first few weeks, recommended by a friend. The sour-sweet would immediately arrest my nausea and help me make it through important tasks, like grocery shopping. jolly ranchers
  • Eating only white foods for the next few weeks. Seriously I only wanted potatoes, bread, and bananas. It was weird! And Chick-Fil-A waffle fries. I could always eat those.
  • When all else failed, I called in for Zophran at week 15.5 because I simply couldn’t stand it anymore. And it was so helpful, so that before I knew it, I was out of the woods of the first trimester and into the second one.

That wraps up today’s post. I would love to hear your own stories as you’re reading.

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 1: how I found out I was having twins

February 3, 2010 / 4 weeks pregnant

I could barely sleep for excitement – knowing I would be taking a pregnancy test in the morning. And I found out that I am pregnant. I am with child. There’s a little BABY growing inside me. I’m in shock I think … disbelief … overjoyed. And yet not really entirely surprised. No, I take that back. I AM entirely surprised. Entirely. Absolutely.

But the excitement was soon replaced by fear when I started spotting unexpectedly. My mind immediately went to the saddest place: miscarriage. At age 30, I’d walked alongside many friends on this journey of heartbreaking loss. I knew it was a very real possibility. So when my OB-GYN asked me to come in sooner than the scheduled appointment to see what was going on, I assumed the worst. My husband, Seth, accompanied me.

February 17, 2010 / 6 weeks

my first glimpse of twins during my first ultrasound at 6 weeks

my first glimpse of twins during my first ultrasound at 6 weeks

We are expecting TWINS – What joy! What a surprise ~ what a miracle to hear two heartbeats yesterday! Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I can’t help but connect this to my secret hope and desire that I’d have twins. I’ve always wanted to have twins, and it really does feel like a dream come true! (I’m sure I’ll need to be reminded of that when I’m in such intense discomfort and we’re getting no sleep …!)

Now that was an understatement. But I’m getting way, way ahead of myself. I’ll introduce this series by going ahead and answering one of the pressing questions you have if you don’t have twins, and the questions you’ve heard ad nauseam if you do:

So were they natural? (usually followed up with) Do twins run in your family

My favorite answer is from another twin mama who likes to say, “Yes. They’re natural. We had sex.” I chuckled and cheered inside when she told me, but I never quite had the guts to be so bold. In our case though, YES, they were “natural,” as in we were completely, utterly surprised to be expecting twins and had not been through any fertility treatments nor had we been trying for very long to have kids. But did you really want to know all that when you accosted me in the grocery store as I was trying to marathon it through without one or both babies waking? In my more gracious moments, I know you’re simply curious and intrigued. But it’s hard to be gracious when you know at.any.moment you could have a twin tantrum on your hands. (That will be a post later in this series.)

On to your next question – YES, twins run in my family. Both sides. My grandfather was a twin, and Seth’s great-grandmother was a twin. But what I learned through having twins is that twinning is only genetic if the twins are fraternal. Identical “just happens.” And twinning is only genetic through the maternal side of the family. So if I feel like being super-chatty with you in the checkout line, I might explain all that to you. And I may even tell you that my grandfather was an identical twin; and my husband’s twin history doesn’t count; so the *real* answer to your question is “no – twins don’t run in my family.” No other extended family member on either side has had twins in recent history.

I am quite thankful that (a) we found out so early into pregnancy because it takes me forever to process big news and this was the biggest news of my life and (b) Seth was with me at the appointment and that he was sitting down. It was only one of a handful of moments I’ve seen him being entirely surprised. (The first was when I told him that I was in fact interested in dating him. This was a month after I’d instructed him not to ask me out on a third date because I wasn’t interested nor were we emotionally connected. But that will be for another series.)

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

write 31 days: parenting twins

31 days of twin parentingLast year I joined the October writing challenge to write for the 31 days of the month. I chose Kate Motaung’s “Five Minute Writing” version since I love Five Minute Friday. Quite honestly, it was exhausting to try to write every day. I skipped a few. I amended a couple of the given topics. I concluded that it was too much for me and that I’m more of an occasional, write-as-I’m-inspired kind of blogger.

But then I met Lauren in the spring through our church, and IRL [in real life] friendship has also become writing/blogging camaraderie. Last week we were chatting about blogging, and she told me that she was joining in again this year and that she’s asked for a few guest posts to supplement her writing. I began thinking that maybe I could try it after all. It could be a good way to jumpstart myself back into regularly blogging, which I’ve neglected the past few months of finishing up my book manuscript. I also thought it would be more do-able if I started with a topic I’ve written a lot about personally but have not blogged a ton about – being a parent to 5-year-old fraternal twin daughters.

I hope you will join me as I do a sweeping view of the past five years of highs and lows twice amplified. I may even introduce a few of my fellow twin-mom-warriors to you along the way.

The best way to follow along for now would be to sign up as an email subscriber to my blog [see sidebar] or to like my Facebook page, “Hidden Glory.”

Happy Saturday!

Day 1: how I found out I was having twins

Day 2: twin pregnancy, first trimester: nausea, exhaustion, and PB&J

Day 3: exuberant joy becomes overwhelming shock

Day 4: it takes a village {to raise twins}

Day 5: it takes abundant grace {to raise twins}

Day 6: what to do about fear {when pregnancy with twins}

Day 7: bed rest at 25 weeks

Day 8: the twins arrive in our world

Day 9: a poem of welcome

Day 10: Hi, I’m a waitress to twins.

Day 11: the 6 best books on twins

Days 12 & 13: the best advice for twins, newborn stage

Days 14 & 15: the best advice for twins, toddler stage

Days 16 & 17: my favorite advice for twins, preschool stage

Days 18 & 19: the best advice for twins, elementary school stage and beyond

Day 20: when the reality of twins interrupts the best-laid plans

Day 21:

Day 22:

Day 23

Day 24

Day 25

Day 26

Day 27

Day 28

Day 29

Day 30

Day 31