My first Mother Day card read “Happy Mother’s Day to a Wonderful Mother.” My friend bought it for me when I was 33 weeks pregnant. Reading the words “Wonderful Mother,” in a card addressed to me was very unnerving. Mothers wore pearls. They were older and had their lives together. And this wasn’t me. I wasn’t ready to be a mother (or so I thought) and definitely didn’t have anything together.
The moment motherhood actually started to hit me was when I was sitting on the floor in a Walgreens bathroom, holding three positive pregnancy tests. I took three just to make sure I was pregnant. I was single, young, had no insurance and clueless about what I would do with a baby.
Then, the moment when motherhood became surreal was when my doctor said, “Can you hear that? That’s another heartbeat; you’re having twins.” Even when I think about this now, a rush of emotions comes surfacing back.
Before I had found out I was having twins, I was considering giving my baby up for adoption. I had big plans that a baby did not fit into. I was moving to Argentina and going to travel South America. At the time, I was a substitute teacher. I remember, one night I had a terrifying dream that I was teaching and all of the students in my class had my face. I woke up sweaty, even more scared, but then became determined to do that whatever it took to provide a home and — hopefully — a somewhat normal environment for my twins.
If it hadn’t been for my parents, family and a large support system that I had already had, I don’t know what I would have done. My mom went to all my doctor appointments with me and to my Lamaze class. My dad put my cribs together and my new glider. However, even with all the love and support that I was so lucky to receive, at the end of the day, when you are laying in bed by yourself with a swollen belly, thinking about all the bikinis you won’t be able to wear again because the expensive stretch mark prevention cream didn’t work since you are only 5’2, you really feel the weight of responsibly of raising and nurturing two humans.
Everything is difficult when you are a single mom. I really didn’t have any idea how to take care or provide for myself let alone two babies.
Even the process of choosing names is hard because, when you have a partner, you both can decide together. When you are by yourself, you have multiple opinions interjecting, which can be overwhelming.
Another hard thing about being a single parent is you really have no idea what you are doing — or at least I didn’t. I made the mistake of reading too many books and every book contradicts the next. Put the babies on a schedule.. don’t put the babies on a schedule ..cosleep if you really love your baby… don’t cosleep if you love your baby.. never take an epidural if you love your baby.. have your baby in a bathtub at home with a midwife.. take placenta pills. I was getting too much advice and I was more than overwhelmed. So what was I going to do? I was scared, alone (along with my mini village) and overwhelmed with the plethora of knowledge.
The amazing thing about pregnancy is that when you finally arrive at 40 weeks or whenever, you are so over being pregnant that you just want to go into labor. You will pretty much do anything or try anything to get the babies out. At that point, I remember not caring about my “birth plan” or anything.
When it was finally time to have the twins, I went into labor at 37 weeks, which is full term for twins despite my height disadvantage. I had a wonderful birth experience. My twins were born vaginally. My mom, and the loving eyes of 15 people wearing masks, were my birth coaches.
My twins made their debut, six minutes apart, and mom brought one to me and told me to reach out and hold her hand. Her hand was so tiny.. and purple.. and wet. Mothers always talk about the instant connection that they felt toward their newborn child; how they had never experienced that type of love before and I waited for that instant love and all I felt was ”Oh #@&%!.”
But then, motherhood finally hit me, not during those first few moments, but before I left the hospital. It felt like my heart grew and I did understand a different, almost supernatural love that mothers have for their babies. I had never loved anything as much as I loved those 5-pound baby girl twins.
They made me leave the hospital only 48 hours after I delivered. When the nurse handed me the first baby to get dressed, I remember taking off her hospital onesie to put her in her flowered take home outfit and my hands were shaking so violently, I thought there was no way they were going to let me leave the hospital. I was waiting for an announcement over the speaker- “Code black- she is not fit to be a mother, she has no idea what she is doing”, but that didn’t happen and I did leave.
When I got home I sat on my couch and held both of them at the same time and wept. I kept saying over and over “I just love them so much”. Got to love hormones, and when you have twins, I think it is double the hormones. After that, I just took it one day at a time.
I didn’t sleep very often and I smelled really bad because I stopped showering for about a year. After they were born a friend from childhood came along and we started dating. Dating with twins is an adventure. I remember one of our first dates, we went out for sushi. I was nursing the twins so I was always hungry. I would wake up in the middle of the night and eat a peanut butter sandwich, I was so hungry. When you are dating a guy, it’s not like you want to order a ton of food but I actually remember I ate my sushi rolls and I was still hungry so I dipped his garnish in soy and ate it. He must have liked it because he ended up marrying me and adopting the twins. It is such a wonderful story; Hallmark is pursuing us to make it into a movie- just kidding; that’s not true.
Now, after many Mother’s Day cards, I still treasure that first one that made my heart stop. I have learned a lot along the way and was able to find a flow through all the knowledge that is available. If I could go back and change anything, I would still have my beautiful babies. Having my twins was one of the best experiences in my life but I would relax more and trust my instincts because I really was a wonderful mother underneath it all.