Twinning: Twin Guilt Is Mom Guilt 2.0
Having twins can be the most amazing experience of your life. It can also cause you to wake up in the morning wishing you were someone else. Twinning offers an honest depiction of life with twins from a mom who tries to keep things somewhere in the middle.
Armed with some baby books and a few honest girlfriends, I had a pretty good picture of what to expect once I had twins. I knew there would be a lot of crying and yelling, but I wasn’t prepared for the “twin guilt” I’d feel when both infants needed me at the same time. No new mother wants to sit by while her newborn wails, but with two newborns, it’s a daily occurrence.
Hearing your babies cry in unison is awful, and what makes it worse is that you have to choose which one needs you more. Pile this on top of the usual postpartum emotions and you’ve got a new mom buried in a mountain of guilt. So in my case, make that three people crying in the same room.
I think twin guilt is similar to what a mother of a toddler feels when she breastfeeds her newborn. Here’s this little person you’ve doted on for the past two years just wanting a little of your attention, but you have to feed this new little person now and hope your toddler will eventually understand that. We can’t be everything and everywhere for our children, but I think our instinct is to try to do just that.
In the beginning, I would try to fix everything. I remember feeding my colicky son a bottle I held with my teeth while leaning down with a bottle for my screaming daughter as I rocked her carseat with my foot. I also remember apologizing as I watched my daughter try to push her own pacifier back into her mouth while I was struggling to get a onesie over her screaming brother’s wobbly little head.
“I’m so sorry baby girl! I’m going as fast as I can!” I yelled, as if she could understand or even hear me over her brother’s banshee scream.
I suppose my guilt would have been lighter if my twins were both colicky or both quiet. With two kids yelling all the time, maybe I wouldn’t have cared who I picked up first. My daughter had the misfortune of being the angelic baby while her brother was the colicky one who got all the attention. She would sit happily in her bouncy seat or swing, and would sometimes take a bottle if I held it to her there, but my son wanted to be held all the time. If I put him down to pick up his sister too soon after feeding him, he would scream bloody murder and spit up, and I’d have to start all over again.
I know there are supermoms out there who can breastfeed twins at the same time, pick them both up and rock them together and ladies, I bow to you. But that’s not who I am. I wasn’t able to do any of that, and my infants weren’t able to do things at the same time either. My son was all-demanding, and when he screamed, his little head would turn bright red, and a vein would throb on his forehead. It was an alarming sight. My daughter was low-maintenance, but should her pacifier fall out, she easily could match her twin in a shrieking contest.
In a few months, I learned that no matter how many plates I could spin at the same time, at least one was bound to drop. Eventually all mothers of twins realize that they just can’t be there for two infants at the same time—it’s just impossible. As I learned to stay calm and soothe the most distressed baby first, I found that I could sort both babies out relatively quickly. My twin guilt subsided because I knew that I wasn’t playing favorites: I was doing my job as Mom, and doing it as best as I could for two babies.