Life with Twins and a Tween

5:26 PM

NOTE: This post was originally written for, and published on, Madison City Moms Blog available here.

A friend of mine recently asked how we survive with twins.

This is a raw look at my emotional journal, and humorous outlook, on life with twins and a tween.
None of this is in any order... like my life.

Actual journal entry from February 2014 - 21 days. 
Its said that it takes 21 days to form a habit.  Tomorrow makes 21 days you will be in the NICU since your birth.  Each morning I wake up to pump milk, shower, start a load of laundry, grab breakfast, pack up and head out to spend precious time with you.  The general routine has formed, but there are details too.  I fill out the same labels (times 2) for each snap bottle of milk no less than 5 times a day, usually more.  I have figured out what foods I can eat walking across the skywalk of the hospital from the parking garage in order to save time so I can get to you faster.  Some mornings I drag though, and I usually feel guilty on those days.  On the drive to you I use the time to call people back that I have ignored the day before.  But, some days, I just don't have it in me to talk.  Instead, I marvel at the height of the snow banks pushed to the sides of the road by over worked plows this never-ending winter.  Funny that it still seems long even though I spent 37 days of December in the warmth of a hospital room.  Perhaps counting hours, days, weeks, and praying for another is long no matter the warmth.

Now that I'm in the room with you, I count minutes that you have gone without a breathing spell, hours 'til your next feeding.  But days and weeks escape me as a measure of time.  I remember the date only because of those milk labels and the NICU sign in sheet.

I'm forced to think ahead for Kaylie; to know what the next day holds for her - where to go after school, Valentines party, field trip.  I want to think I have given her enough- enough time, attention, praise; but I always know there could be more.  She's done so well at understanding.  We all just want to bring you home so our time can be spent together.

I know you will be in the NICU another 21 days, and maybe more.  I am grateful for each of those days with you, wherever they are spent.  I know I will form many other little habits to get through those days with you, and for you.
Most of all, I know it doesn't take 21 days to form the habit of loving you.  I loved you always.

About .5 % of the time I can do this:

The other 95.5 % of the time looks like this:

There is no time that I can just pick my kid up and run do something.  I pull up in the grocery store parking lot and start honing in on the double carts (IF they exist) like a buzzard circling a carcass.
If you are by yourself, may the force be with you if you have to push the double stroller and the cart.

There are times I have a plate of food in front of me, one twin reaching for it, the other reaching for my nose to pinch so I can't actually breathe if I managed to get food to my mouth.  In that moment, logically I know I won't, but emotionally, I feel I might starve before they go to bed.

Actual journal entry from June 2015: Tonight I got Wrenly out of the tub and sat her on the floor to get Harper out of the tub.  Wrenly pees in floor.  I sit Harper down to put Wrenly back in tub.  Harper hammer palms the pool of pee.  I have pee IN my eyes.  Everyone back in the tub.

Actual journal entries
January 2, 2015: sick, ear infections for twins.
January 3, 2015: Still sick.  Still exhausted.
January 4, 2015: Still sick.  Still exhausted.
January 5, 2015: Still sick.  Still exhausted.
January 6, 2015: Still sick.  Still exhausted.
Twin tip: Always take both in to doctor when one is going. 
They probably both have an ear infection.
Or they both have their 9th ear infection (true story).

Actual journal entry January 14, 2015: The high chair trays come with instructions that they are 'so easy to clean... just pop the top off and put it in the dishwasher!'  UNLESS you have twins, and then you can't squeeze them both in the dishwasher.  So, either one kid gets to eat at a time, or they alternate who is messy.  My parenting style is to give my kids choices.

Actual journal entry February 18, 2015: Twins with ear infections (again).  Throw in pink eye for fun.  Go ahead and sign me up for wine of the month club.  But, I need to know they deliver enough wine FOR the month.  Otherwise, I will start my own club- wine of the day.

Actual journal entry November 2014: When the girls were born at 29 weeks, I was so thrilled we made it so far from where the hospital road started.  But that quickly turned to fear when I realized how long the girls had to stay in the NICU, and how many things could still go wrong.  There were tubes, oxygen, CPAP, spinal tap, antibiotics, retinopathy exams (horrible).  I remember thinking I should go back to work for a while since they would be in the hospital for another 2 + months, and I had already been in the hospital about 6 weeks.  I was so weak from the extended bedrest and double whammy natural and C-section births, it took all I had to make it from the parking garage to the girls' NICU room.  Shortly after, I realized what a wreck I was, physically and mentally, and I was not prepared to leave my girls on this journey.  Ryan continued to work so he could take off when the girls got home, and I could go back to work then.  He visited the girls every day after work, sometimes late into the night.  It was only a few weeks until I had the entire routine down and had preferences of details based on my observances of nurses and the girls' personalities.

When a nurse made a mistake, or did something different from my preferences, I became internally enraged.  When Wrenly wasn't hitting milestones Harper was, I was asking the doctors why and whether she needed more food or oxygen.  I am not a doctor, so I read up on what I could just to have a basic understanding.  I knew I couldn't just stay angry, so I tried to advocate instead.  It really, really helped to have an amazing neighbor who was one of our NICU nurses.  After 109 total hospital days, we brought Wrenly home.  Harper had been released a few weeks earlier and coming to visit Wrenly daily with me. 

Tonight's [sometime in 2015] journal entry: Harper and Wrenly figured out how to turn the radio on.  We all had an impromptu dance party in the living room.  I'd say we are doing more than surviving; we are thriving in this life with twins and a tween.  And for the days we aren't, my journal suggests there is wine or antibiotics.

UPDATE 2017: We moved to Waco, Texas, and bought a modern farmhouse (that gets dirty like any other house of three kids). I visit Magnolia Silos at least twice a month, eat cupcakes, constantly feel like I'm behind at work, still adore my husband, still ponder daily if I'm doing anything right and what I could give the world more of, and what I could do less of.  Life is still full, like my wine glass.

All of the images in this post are by Kortnee of Tumbling Sparrow Photography.  

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