About five years ago, my first set of twins were turning one, and my Husband and I started talking about expanding our family. Like many couples having navigated infertility before and then being blessed with twins, we were left with a lot of emotions tied to “trying again”. We knew it may again be difficult to conceive or even impossible this time. Most of all, though, we were nervous about having another set of twins. I wanted to experience a ‘boring’ 40 week singleton pregnancy and ONE newborn to care for. Hayden and Connor were mono/di twins from one embryo, so we knew even transferring one embryo through IVF would give us the chance – risk – of having multiple multiples. After lots of thought, we moved forward with a fresh IVF cycle and arrived at transfer day with 16 month-old twins at home. Our doctor looked at our very imperfect, behind-in-growth embryos and advised us to transfer two if we wanted any chance at all for a singleton. We did, and voilà, Madelyn and Noah arrived 9 months later. I can’t tell you I wasn’t terrified, worried we had made a mistake, and quite honestly, sad, during the beginning of the pregnancy. I felt like the fact that we had to use fertility treatments to become pregnant had robbed me at the chance of creating and parenting a singleton. I KNEW how much work infant twins were, and I dreaded the thought of doing that again with a set of toddler twins running around. Thankfully, I was able to work through a lot of that, and by my third trimester I was cautiously excited about the unique twist our family was about to take on. Five years later, I can honestly tell you I wouldn’t change a thing. Yes, it’s a TON of work, and I get overwhelmed like any other mama out there. However, there are so many aspects of parenting two sets of twins that have changed my husband and I (and even our marriage!) for the better. Here are five examples to illustrate how awesome having multiple multiples can be.
1. Behold the amazing “Do-Over”!
Every mother who has had a subsequent child after her first will tell you ‘second time motherhood’ is awesome. You are more relaxed, you have learned many lessons you can apply the second time around, you have more confidence, etc. With a second set of twins, this was exponentially true! I had so many tricks that had taken a lot of trial and error to figure out with my first set, that I was able to implement making the second set so much easier. Sleep regression with two babies? Stressful, yes – but techniques that had taken me weeks to figure out before now helped me get the babies back on schedule in no time. Breastfeeding was night-and-day different for me the second time around, and we were able to breastfeed until just past two years without any supplementation in the beginning at all. In fact, I would even say it was easy in comparison to my experience with my first set, all because I had the knowledge and confidence I had gained with my older boys. This has carried through up to
today – with discipline, potty training, activities, etc – if it worked well the first time, we stick to it, if not, we immediately moved on to a different way without wasting any time.
2. Deep-rooted Confidence
Unfortunately we live in a time where “mommy wars” runs rampant across social media and in person. You can’t go to a playground, story hour, or mom group on Facebook without seeing other moms judge and be judged. One thing having two sets of twins has given me is a sense of confidence about my mothering that is (almost) impermeable to the effects of this. I have had grueling, mind-numbing overstimulated days where the process of taking care of 4 children ages 4 and under was outside the realm of typical human experience. It’s kind of like a “Until you’ve walked in my shoes” kind of thing. You want to judge me for not helicopter parenting my four little kids at the playground? Go for it, it really doesn’t bother me. Do I judge you for protecting your little Johny from every bump or bruise he may have gotten without your ever-present guidance? NOPE! You do you, Girlfriend! That works for your family, but I am the expert on what works for mine. And for that confidence, I am overwhelmingly grateful.
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3. Highlighters, Calendars, and sticky notes, Oh My!
I’ve always thought of myself as more of a right-brained person – my organizational skills were NEVER a strong point. However, having two sets of twins means two sets of double doctor appointments, dentist appointments, school events in different places (but on the same day), projects due, etc. Add that to having an active duty Submariner husband who could potentially be at sea on any given day for who knows how long, and you see why I needed to work on those skills STAT. I have a main calendar I keep in our kitchen that keeps all of our daily activities and appointments neatly organized. I do also use my phone (especially with reminder alerts for random things like “snack mom day” and “Wear green for field day” type things). Each kid has a color – Hayden=Red, Connor=green, Madelyn=purple, Noah=blue, which I use to write their activities or appointments in on the calendar. Sometimes things will get crazy for a month and the color coding doesn’t get done, but I always feel off and like I am forgetting something. Sticky notes on the fridge or stuck to my phone on things that need to get done asap are awesome. Also, giving myself grace with this is incredibly important. I will not remember EVERYTHING. That is ok! I just do my best, and as long as I am getting about 90% done, I feel pretty good about it.
4. Reinventing Myself
One of the awesome parts about growing older is gaining experience in your career field or even taking opportunities that will lead you into a different direction. My bachelor’s degree is in Social Work, and the work that I did before I married a man in the military and having (many) small children was fulfilling and a great fit for me. Fast forward 10 years, and now I need a highly flexible, portable career that I can weave into our ever-changing life and geographical location. Through breastfeeding both of my sets, I realized that going into a professional lactation consulting field was perfect for me and have become a Certified Lactation Counselor. I had personal experience with during and pumping for preemies in the NICU, with full-term babies who came home right away, and everything in between. I am able to draw on my social work background a lot in my current work, so I don’t feel like my years in college was for naught. As many of you know, I teach Expecting Twins and also Breastfeeding Twins classes for Twin Love Concierge, and feel like having both my sets has given me so many tools with which to connect with the parents taking my classes. I always tell them, “I am proof you can survive through it once, and even twice!”. Right now, I am making plans for the upcoming school year when both of my sets will be in full-day school. I will be doing a 20-hour per week internship to count towards sitting for my IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) exam. I feel so grateful for the experience and inspiration I’ve gained with having each of my sets which will lead me to becoming an IBCLC.
5. The Pressure is Less!
One thing I learned quickly with two newborns and two two-year-olds is I just can’t do it all. I can’t please everyone who may have expectations of me. Heck, I can’t even please all of these little people who call me Mom – all I can do is try my best. In many ways, these facts have been very liberating for me. Neither myself, nor other people, expect me to have a perfectly clean house, to take on volunteering at every school or activity, to remember every birthday or anniversary…I have TWO sets of TWINS, remember?! I do try my hardest at all of these things, and like most moms am often juggling too much, but above all I am kind to myself when I just can’t be perfect. If settling for just doing my best seems lackadaisical to some, well – see #2.
About the author
Lindsay Castiglione, LC is TLC’s Connecticut Associate and the mother of two sets of twins, an identical five year old boy set, and a three year old boy/girl set. She was born and raised in Cape Cod, MA, and married a Submariner in the U.S. Navy, so now home is where the Navy takes them. She has her B.S. in Social Work, and focused on helping support parents of young children before starting her own family. Breastfeeding was very different for each set, but equally as important, and her varied experiences motivated her to become a Certified Lactation Counselor in 2015. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our Connecticut services or online Breastfeeding Twins Class details.