Recently, two moms that I know have joined the "multiple multiples" club. I met both of them through our local mothers of multiples club. One has fraternal boys and just had a set of fraternal girls. The other just found out that she is expecting a second set (and has a set of boy/girl twins and a singleton.)
Right now, I still have a hard time understanding how a family survives the addition of more than one baby at a time. And I still can't understand how on earth anyone survives having more than one set of multiples. Yes, I know this sounds silly. But those first few weeks/months/years pass so quickly that all becomes a blur. And that's where I'm at now. Did we really do that?
I'm sure there are factors that contributed to the difficulty of my situation. Having a husband that was gone for the first 2 years of the little boys' lives did not help. Living far from family did not help. Having two young singletons already did not help. Fortunately, neither of the two new moms I know have similar situations. And yet, I still look at these other two moms and feel both excitement and sympathy.
Having twins takes a lot out of you as a mother. Your time is divided, your attention is split between two babies, and you are often left feeling exhausted and even (dare I say it) guilty. You start to second-guess yourself and your ability to take care of two crying, hungry babies. A single baby receives that special one-on-one attention that just doesn't happen the same way in a one-on-two situation. There are just not enough hours in the day.
While I love my kids and I wouldn't change anything about our family, I do sometimes wonder if I'd feel like a better mother if I didn't have multiples. Would I have a stronger bond with my children? Would they feel more loved? Would they get more attention from me and less attention from strangers? Possibly.
I guess that the trade-off in having twins is that those children share a bond unlike any other. Having a constant companion and best friend is surely a gift. And maybe that helps make up for the tougher parts of being raised as part of a pair?
One thing is certain: having two sets of twins is not for the faint of heart. Beyond the physical demands of caring for multiples, the mental demands challenge your sanity. It doesn't help that multiples are often "on display" when in public, so you start to feel like everyone in Target is critiquing your parenting abilities (or lack thereof) and everyone in line at Costco is concerned about the size of your family (or your shopping cart.)
I remember the fear that I had the first time I had to take six kids to the grocery store by myself. I remember sitting in the parking lot for such a long time, trying to convince myself that I really should take the kids into the store because we really did need food. I remember nursing Nathan and Ryan in the van so that they'd (hopefully) be quiet while we were shopping. And, in the end, it wasn't so bad. The fear of failure was all in my head and we did make it out of the store without a meltdown. This is not always the case, of course. I'm sure seeing my family in a moment of sheer chaos has been great birth control for many a young couple.
And now I can say that I've survived almost 3 years of having multiple multiples. Three years!?! As we approach the little boys' third birthday, I'm becoming increasingly aware that they will probably not be potty-trained (fail) and that they don't know their alphabet (fail) and that they still try to color on the walls and drink out of the dogs' water dish (fail.) But we have survived. And that is incredibly awesome!
As I stumble over my words in congratulating the other newest moms of two sets of twins, I can only say "it's a wild ride." And "you'll survive!"