We need to talk about THE picture. You know the one: the one of Beyoncé with newborn twin-fants Rumi and Sir. It is dream state. Beautiful. Ethereal. And epic BS.
I understand branding. I understand aspirational lifestyle shoots. And I understand an incredible celebration of welcoming new and precious life into the world. I also understand intimately what it means to bring twins into the world, and this picture, to me - and to every other parent of newborn multiples - is just too much.
To keep this so real: my twin birth was textbook. I’d even say it was easy, as far as labour and delivery can be easy. Two healthy baby girls born full term, full weight, no complications, no meds, no interventions, in four hours. No joke.
So, I’m coming at this from a very grounded, grateful, trauma-and-drama free labour and delivery.
And even so, I need to tell every expectant parent, and every parent sitting at home with new and multiple babes, scrolling your social feeds in between feedings and diapering and cuddles and emotional break downs – and anyone looking at the over edited Venus de Milo for millennials, feeling that pit of despair way deep down in your gut when you look at THE photo and wondering why you don’t feel lighter after delivering your littles into the world – it’s completely false.
Trust me when I say having twins is not for the faint of heart. It’s a far cry from standing in robes of gossamer, crowns of flowers, feeling blissed out and floating on lavender clouds. Having twins is – certainly for the first two years – a total cluster fuck. For the first few days, just the act of standing itself could legitimately be considered a feat.
Adding one baby to your life is rife with beauty and challenge; adding two babies to your life is more than double of both – it’s exponentially more work, more emotion, more fatigue, more despair, more joy, more wonder, and more shell shock than you may ever know.
It’s realizing – then accepting – that you will not be able to parent the way you had envisioned. Period. It’s battling the guilt and shame that comes with that. It’s saying goodbye to baby-wearing like you had intended (and done exclusively with your first born) and saying hello to the guilt and shame that you’ll never have enough time for anyone ever again.
It’s having people come to “help” you by holding a baby, which only amps up the guilt and shame that you don’t have enough arms, enough time, for either of these little joys, but being unable to refuse the help.
Having twins means learning to tandem nurse, using one baby’s belly as a pillow for her sister so that your arms don’t go numb in the process. It’s a necessity to feed them at the same time so that they digest and sleep at the same time, so that you may get some much-needed sleep and rest. It means being so tired that you’re topless in the kitchen, post-feed, not even noticing the absence of a shirt when your mother-in-law arrives.
Your entire social life now revolves around where you can nurse and they can nap, and you’re facing the harsh reality that your social life is now your living room, unless you are okay with showing up and leaving the gathering in tears (either theirs, or possibly yours). You’re laden with so many babies on the couch and will have to pee so badly that when you finally manage to set them down safely, you’ve already wet your pants in the hallway outside the bathroom.
You are unwashed hair, track pants, and yesterday’s mascara on your cheek, and won’t notice any of that for days until you finally get the chance to look in the mirror.
Being the mom of multiples is not knowing how the hell you are going to survive, and combatting the tidal waves of - you got it - guilt and shame that follow. Wondering where the hell this body came from, and where the hell your body went, having flashbacks to “Wow! She’s already hit 200 lbs!” called out by the nurse across the doctor’s office for an entire waiting room to hear. Looking down in disbelief at all this extra skin.
You’ll become an expert in the logistics of fitting two car seats and groceries in the same cart, while navigating the mine field of kind hearted and good-natured people who want to share their twin stories with you - when all you want to do is get the hell back home before the twins realize they’re hungry again - and listening politely, empathetically, to people telling you the hard time they’ve had with one baby.
You understand that everything is relative, but now is absolutely not the time.
Five years in, however, I will tell you that I would not change a single thing of my motherhood experience. Though the first two years were impossibly difficult, life now is sweet and good, filled with more love than I knew existed.
Having twins pushed me to new heights. I discovered that I can do anything. They’ve double-handedly made me become the person I am today, for which I am ever grateful. (Plus they’re so damn cute I want to squish them basically all the time.)
And still, to the Aphroditic “Queen B,” I roll my eyes. Dramatically. I want to hug and rock every new mom out there who is just grateful to have made it through the day and fold her into my arms. I want to soothe you and tell you I’m not sure it ever feels quite like Beyoncé’s PR team would have you believe.
But trust me, darling, it gets better and easier, and will make you capable of handling anything.