All three of our children celebrated birthdays within the last three weeks; our oldest turned the big four and the twins turned two. With another year around the sun passing, I am reflecting on the first two years of my twins’ lives and this reflection has revealed several things about myself.
I don’t remember a lot about the first year with the twins, but I do remember an ER visit, my daughter Audrey throwing up for two months, Covid, croup, strep, exhaustion, survival and STRESS. I remember being so excited when my son William could hold his own bottle because I was one step closer to things getting easier. I remember when we were finally able to suck their noses out, and when Audrey stopped regurgitating her bottle, sleep training and then sleeping through the night — again, things were starting to get easier.
What I don’t remember however, is our oldest as a two-year-old.
Now that the twins are hitting the terrible twos, I can’t remember much about what our oldest was like. Family members tell us that she was a typical two-year-old, but I don’t remember much, other than that she potty trained and watched a lot of TV the first few months after the twins came. I remember wanting to do things with her, but that we couldn’t because I couldn’t do it all. Part of me regrets putting her in front of the TV so much, but the other half of me says “She won’t remember; you were just trying to survive.”
What I have come to realize about myself during that time is that I was very much on edge until the twins were about 18 months.
They say it takes about a year for you to start feeling back to normal (whatever normal is) after having a baby. For me, it was like a switch flipped and I began feeling more like myself: less stressed, more relaxed and able to enjoy time with the kids more. I never had postpartum anxiety or depression, but I can see that I was high-strung and very strict about the routine in order to survive. I was very focused on self-preservation and making it through the day, and I didn’t connect with a lot of my friends like I should have. I was living in a high stress environment, exhausted, with constantly needy children, and we were just trying to make it to nap time. I could never really enjoy the different stages the kids went through. I felt alone most days. Things I did were based on what was best for myself and what would make it easier for me. I sleep trained and kept to a schedule because I knew that I would be the one that had to deal with TWO sleep-deprived babies and it was the only way to stay somewhat sane. There were several times during the first 18 months where I thought, “People must think I’m the crazy lady” because of all the things I did.
I know there were several times in which I did not react well to circumstances or responded to someone in a snappy tone, but I couldn’t see that at the time. I know that my reaction in those moments was a culmination of everything going on at home. I wish I had been able to see at the time how things were affecting me and other areas of my life. I should have sought out more help from others, but I couldn’t see that I needed it. At the same time, I wish that those around me would have pulled me aside if they had concerns and said “Hey, I’m seeing this and that in you. Is everything ok? Do you need help?”
I can see that I am definitely in a better place now. I feel like I am able to breathe, not be as rigid, and am able to actually take in and enjoy all the things. I still need to grow in patience and I get selfish when I just want to enjoy some adult time without kids, but I know this too shall pass and there will be a time for everything.