Doubly Wonderful

My twin granddaughters turned 5 Oct. 25.  Their mother and I had taken the other kids to the trick or treat at Ushers Ferry, where Holly, 9 months pregnant, walked the yard for nearly two hours. I think she was tired of being pregnant and want to get the delivery process going. It must have worked, because she went into labor that night, and had the twins the next day by C-section, only 3 weeks earlier than her anticipated due date.gianna-and-natalie

The twins were conceived in a peculiar way, and I love telling the story, because no one I’ve talked to has ever heard of it before:

After suffering 4 miscarriages following her last baby, Holly was given an injection of steroids that doctors hoped would help prevent another miscarriage. The first ultrasound just a few weeks later determined she was carrying two babies. One of them was smaller, which led the doctor to believe the smaller one was conceived three days after the other.

Holly at 32 weeks into her pregnancy

Holly at 32 weeks into her pregnancy

After a fairly normal pregnancy, Holly gave birth to Gianna, who was born first and weighed nearly 6 pounds; Natalie weighed almost a whole pound less. But it didn’t take long for her to catch up to Gianna. By their first year, they were close to being the same size. (They are fraternal, but I still have a hard time telling them apart.)

From the beginning, their personalities were totally different; Gianna was standoffish and moody, while Natalie was quiet and cuddly. (Not a lot has changed, though Natalie has become quite an instigator-partners in crime, if you will.)

The twins spent much of the first 6 months of their lives at home. Holly and Jason were busy adjusting to being the parents of twins, and it being close to winter, it was just a great time to stay home. Period.

I visited them often, offering to help any way I could, but I could tell the constant diaper changing, feeding, and coping were getting to Holly. She had taken time off work to get the twins on a schedule, but being with them 24/7 wasn’t healthy for her, either. Isabelle was 5 and was old enough to help Holly with the little things, but she couldn’t help with the feeding or changing yet. cuties

“I don’t think I will ever get a good night’s sleep again,” Holly mused wearily, as she laid the twins down for a nap.

“You need to rest when you can, but honestly, no, you won’t ever get another good night’s sleep until after they move out. And even then, that’s questionable.”

I smiled to let her know I was being fictitious, but I wasn’t far from the truth. Once you have kids, they are yours for life.

“You’ll get through this, I told her. “Five years from now you’ll look back and wish they were babies again.”img_2316

She nodded, and heaving a big sigh, laid down on the sofa for a short nap.

They made it through the first year without too many problems, but when they started to walk, it was a whole new story.

“I always thought it would be a lot of fun having twins,” Holly told me one day while I was visiting. She was attempting a simple thing like putting on pajamas, but as we have found out, not so simple when you’re fighting two at once.

Natalie wiggled to get away, and Holly reached out and grabbed Gianna before she could get away.

Without skipping a beat, she added, “I love them so much, I can’t imagine life without them. But I also didn’t think it would be this hard.”

I remembered back to Isabelle, who was a very cranky baby, and cried so much that I cringed every time Holly asked me to watch her. (She has since passed that stage.)

“Maybe God gave you Isabelle to prepare you for the twins,” I told her with a smile. “And gave you twins to make up for the miscarriages.”

Holly laughed. “Yep, I guess you gotta be careful what you pray for,” she said, letting go of Natalie, while wrestling with Gianna to put on her sleeper.

But we both knew it was exactly what she had prayed for, and what we are very grateful for. Two beautiful little girls who have added so much love and joy to our lives.

Double the crying, double the problems, but double the love.

My own adventures in babysitting

Twins Natalie and Gianna (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)

I thought my daughter would have a tough time with newborn twins, a 5-year-old who never sits still, and a 9-year-old on the verge of puberty.

But I now know I have nothing to fear. She handles it very well, and though she still doesn’t get much sleep, she has the twins routines down pretty good. After having Isabelle, a very colicky baby who didn’t sleep through the night until she was almost 1, the twins, she says, are a breeze.

I have watched the twins a few times since they were born, and I always walk away with a higher respect for mothers who have multiple babies. I had four, too, but they were spaced out. My three girls were all about two years apart, and my son was born four years after my last girl. I can’t imagine what I would have done if one of them had been twins.

My daughter’s twins are now at an age when they are cooing and smiling and are more aware of their surroundings. They’re starting to get their own personalities. Gianna is excited about everything, while Natalie is more laid back.

But when they want something, they both want it NOW!

They slept most of the time in their first few months of life, but I think that’s all about to change.

I recently watched them for a few hours and they seemed to tag-team me the entire time. When one was hungry, the other wanted changed or held or burped or held or fed or changed…..I really don’t know how their mother gets anything else done.

My mom had nine children and I once asked her how she did it. “I had to. I didn’t have any choice,” she said.

I think my daughter is finding that out for herself.

We do what we have to do because we’re mothers, but the rewards far outweigh the problems we face. And besides, twins are most definitely twice as nice.

The more the merrier

My daughter is pregnant with twins. She found out early on that they are both girls but still refers to them as Baby A and Baby B. The girls are due to come into this world Nov. 3, but as we all know, they come when they want to.

Two weeks to go!

I have four granddaughters and four grandsons, two of which are not by blood, but are still a part of our family unit. The addition of the twins will make 10 grandchildren for me, and I don’t think my children are done having kids yet. I have three daughters and a son. My daughters all have children, and may be done having kids, but my son, Sean,  is only 19. It may take him a while, but I know he wants a family someday.

But right now, Holly is feeling miserable. No one in our immediate family has had twins before, so this is a new experience for everyone. We have watched Holly balloon to three times her normal size. She has actually lost a few pounds from her starting weight. I told her it’s because she is taking better care of herself. She quit smoking, drinking, eating fast food, and is exercising more. Pregnancy seems to do that to a person.

She told me that carrying two babies is a lot tougher than just one. Everything is magnified; the stretching, the pressure against her bladder and pelvis, and the movement, while wonderful, makes it feel like they’re fighting for space, which, I’m sure, they are.

I keep reminding my daughter to enjoy these last two weeks because she is going to be busier than she ever imagined. It’s a good thing she has had some training; she has a 5-year-old rambunctious daughter, Isabelle, and she works as a server at Chili’s, but I don’t think anything can really prepare a mother for what comes next. You just learn to go with the flow and take this as they come.

But, as with any hormonal imbalance, she is also emotional and her mood swings upset her. “I’m afraid I won’t love the twins as much as I love Isabelle,” she told me. I tried not to laugh, because I knew she was serious. I hugged her and assured her that will not be a problem.

I explained to her that it’s hard to explain a  mother’s love; it just happens, and nothing will ever change the way you feel about your children. You love them all the same, but different.

I guess she’ll just have to figure that one out for herself.

Game Day-A House Divided

Every year the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones meet to hash it out on the football field. And every year someone has to go home the loser. This year it was the Hawkeyes who lost…in triple overtime.

I didn’t see the game. Instead, I was helping host a baby shower for my daughter, who is expecting twins in October. The shower was a co-ed shower and we had a TV downstairs for the guys to watch while we played games like, “Guess the size of Mama’s belly,” and “How many songs can you name with the word Baby?”

We ended up turning on the TV upstairs for the die-hard football fans attending the shower, but unfortunately, the cable didn’t cooperate and we had to learn play-by-plays via smartphones.

Half of the people at the shower were for the Hawkeyes; the other of half were Cyclone fans. And even though we had fun playing the games and looking at all the baby presents Holly received, we couldn’t quite get away from the game. After all, Iowa takes their football very seriously, no matter who you are rooting for.

We didn’t plan on having the shower the same day as the shower. By the time we realized it, it was already too late to  change it. So we did the next best thing; we made it a co-ed shower and bought beer for the guys, who in turn brought a pack of diapers for the parents-to-be.

Everyone left happy, everyone except the Hawkeye fans, that is. The final score: 44-41 Cyclones.