By my guest blogger - Dr. Sabina Rao, a psychiatrist and a mother of twins.
Twenty fingers, twenty toes,
two sweet babies with cheeks of rose.
Born on the same day, two gifts from above,
lives entwined, two babies to love.
When Dr. Prabha asked me to be a guest blogger on her site, the first thought I had was, would I want other women to hear my “war story”! I know every woman’s experience with child birth, babies and even twin babies is different. My thought was what if pregnant women having twins read this and become more anxious!
I would want any woman reading this to feel at least a little bit better, so I have to say first off- it gets better, it gets easier. I have been told by several women that I am so lucky to have twins- ‘two birds with one stone’ , you have twins, how cute!’
All true and I can hear it now without much of an emotional reaction. I remember the time I found out I was having twins. My daughter was 3 then. I had trouble with that pregnancy, so when I was pregnant again the doctors were already worried. Needless to say, by the 6th month, I was on a 100% bed-rest until the 38th week. I was only allowed to bathe once a day and use the rest room. I had to stay on bed-rest or in my case, a big sofa, downstairs in the family room. The clincher was that the doctors told me that bed rest would not definitely prevent early, preterm labour, that there was no good evidence for bed rest preventing preterm labour. They told me that since they did not have any thing definite to offer, they advised bed rest!
That was not fun. I was someone who was used to rushing around. I was a psychiatrist on a busy ward with very ill patients. The job was high pressure and I was used to handling it. I did not handle the bed rest well. I was on medications to prevent contractions. These medications gave me a headache. Could I have handled it any different? I am not sure. What can a woman do sitting on a sofa all day?
I thought once I had the babies and I could walk around again, things would be better. And then, the babies arrived. I wondered if there was a fast track cloning of me possible. The innumerable diapers, lack of sleep, feeding schedules, trying to maintain diaries of who had milk when, tears (mom’s and baby’s), doctor visits. I could go on.
My efficient mom flew down to the States to help me. Even she thought the twins were a challenge.
With my daughter, mom would massage her every single day for the 3 months, for the whole time she stayed with us. With my boys, she tried for a month to give them a massage every day but beyond that it became impossible.
Most things, mom and I found could not get done the way we would have liked. I’d like to think of myself as a relatively organized person but I found myself running around the house, chasing my own tail, so to speak. Then we moved to India in 2011. It was different.
In the United Sates, I found , going back to work when the babies were 2 months old( I found a nanny to help with them) was the best thing I could have done for myself( the work environment being much better than here, for women with children). In India, other than working, I found staying healthy, exercising, and doing all the things women love to do for themselves, helped me keep my balance. After all, navigating the nanny, maid scenario in India was going to be a life time learning exercise.
I admit, while in medical school, I did not see myself as someone who wanted to have kids. Now, having had 3 of them, I actually find I am a confident mother, a somewhat efficient wife AND a working woman. I don’t fret the small stuff as much. I find I am a much calmer mom than moms with single kids.
This absolutely did not happen overnight.
I had months were I looked at myself in the mirror and saw an overweight woman with dark circles under her eyes. It upset me when I stayed tired all the time, when I went to stores and had to shop in the ‘large’ section, nothing less. It upset me that I had no time to relax, no time for myself. It upset me that I was unable to get things done with my usual efficiency. It upset me that I did not love my kids every waking minute of the day, that there were times when I wished my youngest son (born 4 minutes after his brother) would get his act together and help me get him ready- he was a month old! I want to say, I stayed upset a lot!
One of my friends’ mentioned the other day to me that things must have gotten better now that my kids were older. I stopped, mentally, in my tracks and realized that this was true. My boys play with each other now, they can communicate in words. My daughter can hang out with other little 6 year olds for hours. Give it another few years and my teenage ’kids’ might choose to not see me all day!
As of now, all three of my kids still have that baby smell, they still hug and kiss me all the time and on most days make me feel very special. I believe things will get better, things will be different, I just need to hang on and keep smiling! I doubt the guilt, anxiety over my kids will ever go away, and that is just a part of mother hood.
Having a baby is a true miracle of nature, having twins- 2 miracles in one go! Not too many people get that lucky!