A few weeks ago, some of my mom friends were discussing multiples. One said her son has two sets of multiples in his class. Since the school is so small, they could not be separated. One said her school routinely separates. A third agreed that what was best for the children to keep them separate. At one point, someone mentioned the fact that she has a biological child and a step child in the same grade and she is glad they are separated.
The one thing that all of these women have in common is that none of them has multiples.
When I first learned that I was going to be having twins, I was gripped by fears. So many fears. I laid on the table with jelly on my belly, with Saint Daddy and Sunshine sitting mere feet away, stunned by my thoughts.
Before I left the ultrasound room, the tech handed me a brochure for my local Moms of Multiples Club. She said, “Reach out the them. They’ve been there too.” Every single one of them had received this same news. While they might have different stories or circumstances that led them to the fact of multiples, they had each experienced what I was experiencing in their own way and in their own time.
Know them because, in some ways, they already know you.
I had that thought, and I put it off.
I carry around a lot of social anxiety. I worry that people judge me when I need help. I worry that people judge me for how I dress. I worry that people judge me for being me.
I remember a time in the seventh grade when I stood in front of my social studies class for a presentation. One of the girls in the front row whispered something to the girl next to her, they giggled, and I felt a wave of embarrassment wash over me. I was wearing second hand clothes that did not fit quite right, and while I would never know what they whispered, I felt their laughter was at my expense. I felt shame, and I carried that shame into my adulthood. I include this story as one of many instances that made me feel less than. One of many instances of situations that created who I am today. I still struggle to feel good enough, and I often do not know how to just “belong.”
So while I wanted to know my fellow MoMs, I did not feel ready to put myself out there.
Shortly after my twentieth week, I found my local MoM group’s website, paid my dues, and requested access to their Facebook page. When a week went by without being added, I felt isolation.
I needed them. I knew I needed them. I had friends with children. I had sisters with children. My mother and mother-in-law had children. But my experience was one that they could not understand. They knew me, but they did not know this. I needed the people who knew me only because they understood where I was and what I was doing and what I was going through. I needed women who did not see my situation as a novelty.
I needed them, and I waited. My anxiety piqued. My brain came up with scenarios. What if one of them does know me and I have been blackballed in my local MoMs group?
Real anxiety stuff. It takes all forms and gets ludicrous. It is my life.
So I did something brave. I told myself to be brave. When my anxiety is particularly rampant, I try a lot of self-talk. It often works. Be brave, I said. What is the worst that could happen?
I messaged one of the women who admined the Facebook page, and within a day, I was added to the group. There was no fanfare. No welcome. Just a quiet adding.
I was in.
However, despite that shaky start to things, I am glad I was brave.
A month or so later, I sat at my first MoMs meeting. I showed up early to attend the new MoMs meeting for women who were still pregnant with their multiples or who had infant multiples. I was very nervous on the drive over. I asked my husband if he thought I should go. I requested that my best friend encourage me to walk into the school where the meeting was being held.
And do you know what?
THEY KNEW ME!!!
I was seven months pregnant with twins, and when I said things about my obstetrical care, they knew exactly what I was doing. In fact, before I mentioned my obstetrical care, I said how far along I was, and one woman said, “Oh… So you are going to start your NSTs in a few weeks.” Yes, I was! And she knew why. One woman inquired about the positioning of Baby A, and we talked about the possibility of his moving into a more favorable position. “Don’t give up,” she said. “My A switched right before my scheduled C-section, and I delivered both babies vaginally. It could happen for you too.”
But I did not have to explain why I would be scheduling a C-section soon or why I had to deliver in the 38th week or why so many NSTs and ultrasounds are simply routine and not an indication that anything was going wrong.
I was known.
Since joining my MoMs group, I have participated in countless discussions that let me know I am not alone.
When my sons were not walking at thirteen months and their doctor said, “50% of twins need early intervention; yours probably do too,” I turned to the MoMs.
Tell me about your twins.
I felt so much more reassured by them. If 50% of twins really do need early intervention, it only stands to reason that MoMs would know a thing or two about whether my sons needed to be evaluated, whether they would even qualify, whether I should be concerned.
Some twins walked well before their first birthdays; some walked well after. In all cases, walking alone was not the reason their twins had qualified for services, unless their babies were eighteen months old and still not taking steps. It was too early to worry. They believed that my boys would do it. They helped me believe it too.
And my boys walked. Right on schedule. Without extra support.
My MoMs group gets it. They understand.
There is something about twins that is hard to explain to those who do not live it. Grumpy and Sleepy are both individuals and a set. They will always be that way. They will always be Grumpy and Sleepy and also “the twins,” “the boys,” or “the brothers.”
The MoMs know that. They know the intricacies of my life. They understand the beauty of routine, the necessity for structure, and just what I mean when I mention the “Twin Haze.” They have been stopped by strangers on the street who wanted to discuss their gynecological health and their choice in doctors and whether or not they are sure that their twins are fraternal. “But they look sooooo much alike! I’d never be able to tell them apart!” They have heard people claim to understand because they had children less than two years apart. “It is almost the same thing, you know?” They get it.
The MoMs know the pros and cons of various double strollers. They know which stores are not double stroller friendly. And they know that sometimes it is better to skip the stroller and let the kids run free.
The MoMs are the least judgmental group of women that I have ever interacted with. I do not know if it is just because we are too tired or if it is because we know how truly difficult every day can be so the least we can do is support one another.
As I was thinking about that conversation that I had with my non-MoM mom friends, I realized that the MoMs would have opinions on the matter. Of course they would. The question discussed is one that impacts their lives directly. But their responses would have been based on research, experience, and knowledge of their children. The MoMs would not have vilified either option. That is not what the MoMs do.
I could not recommend joining a Mothers of Multiples group enough. Maybe I am lucky and mine is the best one in the world, but it seems unlikely that other MoMs groups are not at least close to as awesome.
I am glad that I found them when I did. I am happy that there are so many pictures of multiples on my Facebook feed now.
They have helped me to feel much less alone in my new role as a mommy to twins. I can think of few better ways to spend $30 a year than being a part of such a supportive group of women.
They are my $30 sanity savers. I am proud to MoM along with them.