When my ex was pregnant with our twins, we got a lot of these types of comments: “OMG, I have always wanted twins!” “Twins are double the blessing!” “Two for the price of one, huh?” These comments were from folks without twins and who either didn’t have kids or had forgotten how kids work. Two of any children—even when they are not twins—does not make for cost-effective parenting.
Thankfully, we had friends who were parents of twins and they kept it real: Twins are really hard. Just survive the first year. Lower your standards. These words, rather than the excitement some people had over the idea of daily matching outfits, helped. We were already parents to one child and didn’t dare drink the Kool-Aid of cutesy twin photo ops. We embraced the been-there-done-that advice. Having twins is hard AF. Worth it? Yes. Glamorous? Not even a little.
We were about to start construction on our house to make space for baby #2 when my ex was pregnant for the second time. Before we signed a contract with the builder, the ultrasound showed us that we would need room for two more babies. Before they were even born my twins were rearranging shit and making life more complicated. Yes, #blessed but also #notplanned. We made a new plan, sold the house, and bought the house across the street. We moved into the new house the day the babies came home from the hospital. It’s been over eight years and there are still boxes in the basement that are not unpacked. We were too busy unpacking life with twins to get to more than the essentials.
The essentials included two of everything. Cribs, car seats, bottles, diapers, outfits—if a baby needs it, double it. We had some of these items left over from our daughter who was a toddler when the twins were born, but we needed to start from scratch for a lot of things, especially clothes. My twins were each just under six pounds so what we had from my daughter, who was born at over eight pounds, didn’t work for them for a few months. Thankfully we were given lots of hand-me-downs and weren’t picky about what we got. If it was functional and free or cheap, we took it. If the twins happened to be wearing similar or matching PJs on any given day, it was likely accidental. Clean(ish) was the goal, not cuteness.
Getting twins in and out of these essentials and taking care of their basic needs is an Olympic event. If you have never changed, bathed, buckled in, or fed two babies at the same time or in sequential order then I encourage you to do so just to appreciate how easy it is in comparison to doing this for just one child at a time. This isn’t taking away from the work of one kid—that shit is hard too—but dealing with twins took me to a dark cave of pain I never experienced with my singleton.
When two children are doing the same developmentally expected things at the same time it’s not uncommon to go numb. Take teething for example. It wasn’t just the crying, sleepless nights with broken naps. It was the runny noses, diarrhea, extra laundry and clingy babies to deal with while being sleep deprived. Carry most of that over into self-feeding, walking/climbing, and potty training and you will accept that your eyes are now hot holes of fiery exhaustion and your body is always heavy. There are absolutely moments of pure joy while raising twins and we took plenty of pictures to capture their cuteness, but those moments came with a chip on our shoulders because we were doing it even though it was ugly.
My ex and I were—and still are—doing the hard work of raising twins while raising their older sister. They may not have had matching outfits or ever embodied the epitome of what some think life with twins should be, but they were happy, fed, and loved. We even got out of the house, which is equivalent to moving a three-ring circus.
It has gotten a little easier over time. Now that my twins are eight years old, they are independent enough to get themselves ready for the day. They can shower, get snacks, and create dangerous projects that keep them busy for hours on their own. But there are still two of them — so there is duplicate paperwork at school, conflicting sports schedules because they are on teams separated by gender, and different passions. There is the need for double the seasonal gear that we’re never prepared for when the weather decides to drop 30 degrees in a day’s time. Instead of one child complaining about their jacket not fitting, you have two. We navigate friendships and help them find time together with friends in common and work to also give them space apart. But feelings are often hurt; building social-emotional intelligence isn’t always pretty with twins.
With their physical growth, though, comes more destruction. My twins are best friends and feed off of each other’s energy—which is often that of a hurricane. They blow through the house building speed and energy as they go, finally making landfall at night when it’s time to brush their teeth and get ready for bed. Life with twins is not for the faint-hearted.
My twins are loud, exhausting, and definitely were not a “buy one, get one free” deal. But we’re all happy even in our chaotic, mismatched life I’m glad they helped create.