I thought I was never going to be a mother. I had tried and failed for five years. Infertility was something I never thought I would have had to deal with. I can remember playing with Barbies when I was a kid and when my parents bought me her convertible, my first though was: “Where are all the kids going to sit?” Six kids: Four boys, two girls, two golden retrievers, and my hubby and I—that’s who I wanted to fill my minivan.
So when it took us five years to conceive, eventually with the help of IVF, I felt hopeless. Fast forward through one successful round of IVF, delivering my twins at 34 weeks, and a doctor who told me that my uterus had carried its last pregnancy, and I was hopeless once again. No “Partridge Family” singing group for me, instead I’d have twins who I now know are more than enough for this mama.
My twins have given me gifts surpassing what I ever thought was possible in my life. To say I’m lucky that I only have twins seems like an odd mouthful, since many folks fear having twins, but I now realize they were an unexpected gift that created my ideal world. Who knew 4-lb babies could teach you so much?
If you are an expectant parent or a new parent, I’d love to share what my kids taught me, so maybe you can learn from it, too.
My kids taught me what patience is. As a native New Yorker, patience is in short supply in my life. Escalators take too long (I’ll take the stairs), and if there is more than one person on line for coffee, I’ll go to the next cart. But with kids, you need patience. More than you ever thought you could muster. I always joke that my kids weren’t born with any patience which is why they arrived six weeks too early, but as a parent, you need your share of it—and theirs! You need it when you are tired, you need it when you think you can’t change another diaper, you need it when someone says “Are they twins?” for the 30th time that day. I now have more patience then I ever thought was possible. I mean it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still go to the next cart for coffee, but when it comes to my kids, I’d wait there all day if they wanted to, as long as they were beside me.
My kids taught me what real strength is. I’m a big chick. I stand proudly at 5’10” and can easily carry 15 bags from Whole Foods up three flights of stairs without stopping. But my twins taught me how strong I truly am. After their delivery I suffered postpartum depression, and I didn’t think I could go on. Literally. I thought that I should run away and let my husband and sister raise them. I didn’t have the emotional strength to deal with premature infants, let alone two of them. After being carefully led by my NICU nurse and her staff, I learned that weakness wasn’t an option. These tiny babies needed their mama and it was time to step up to the plate, and I did just that. I still, even 12 years later, look back on that moment and realize how strong I was. It’s never lost on me. I sometimes think: “I don’t know how I did it,” but you know what, who cares how—I just know I did. Having twins is the extreme sport of parenting, and I won the gold. Not because I was a prefect parent, but because my kids and myself are smiling and my family is happy and healthy and for that, I already have my gold medal—them.
My twins also taught me how to let it go. Yes, in that Elsa and Anna sort of way. I’m what some people call a control freak. Before kids I liked things one way, and if I didn’t have it that way, my inner Hulk arrived and started smashing things. The arrival of my twins has taught me that pretty much nothing will go my way and if it does, I’m a lucky duck. The twins have allowed me to have a new perspective on what is important and that not everything can be controlled. I think about all the time I wasted on worrying if the house was clean or if I remembered to send out a birthday card to my college friend, and I didn’t spend enough time taking pictures of infant toes or snuggling tiny twins on some days. I learned fast what my priorities really were and I let the rest go.
My gift to you is advice that I wish I was smart enough to take when it was given to me. Enjoy every single second of what is before you. Life turns into one of those movies where you see the clock hands going faster and faster, so don’t let it pass you by. Take time each and every single day for yourself, your partner, and your kids. Don’t take anything for granted and make sure that you are present. Don’t rush. It’s going to go by fast anyway.
No matter what, be patient, be strong, and let it go!
Natalie Diaz is the founder of Twiniversity—the world’s leading support network for multiple birth families. She offers monthly classes for NYC families as well as a selection of online classes and resources. She is also the author of What To Do When You’re Having Two: The Twins Survival Guide from Pregnancy Through the First Year.