"How do you do it?" The question is posed often with curiosity but sometimes with pity and other times with humor, as though our life is some sort of silly joke. But let's be real: there is a lot of laughter happening in our life, so we don't mind greeting this question with a smile and a shrug of the shoulders.
Life with two babies who are not twins and are at two different developmental stages is certainly a little crazier than life with one baby.
My friend Rachel, also a mama of virtual/almost twins, wrote this as a simple peek into life with 2:
2 of EverythingTwins would be easier....
My kids are currently 18 months and 11 months.
2 mirrors to see 2 rear facing babies at the same time as they sit in 2 car seats. Also, 2 cars with the same 2 car seat/mirror setup.2 cribs in 2 separate bedrooms. 2 video baby monitors. 2 toothbrushes. 2 closets to hold the variety of sizes of clothes they work through, very few can be hand-me-downs since they were born in 2 opposite seasons (fall/spring). 2 baby carriers so we can get in the car and go places. 2 diaper bags since at church and other places we divide and conquer or they have different destinations for class time and 2 totally different dietary needs and 2 different diaper sizes. I frequently have 2 different beverages in my fridge for them, 1 bottle and 1 sippy cup. 2 high chair booster seats. 2 humidifiers. 2 sound machines.
"It's just like having twins" has not happened yet, although I know it will feel like that eventually, that statement is just not true today. Twins would be easier.
I have 2 clothes hampers for them due to sizing issues discussed above. We have 2 pack n plays and 2 bumbos and 2 bouncers.
I just bought 2 ladybug Halloween costumes different sizes at a consignment sale. We have 2 baby books that are pretty complete for their stages at this point.
And I have 2 separate places in my heart for these beautiful girls. One hole had been carved out and waiting all my life. The other hole I was completely unaware of until I first felt that swift in utero kick. I think a lot of mothers who adopt after having bio babies realize a hole for the adoptive babies later and it's different. For the unique like me, that travel the simultaneous miracles, it's the opposite. The adopted was the void and lonely God planted. The bio baby took a bit more getting used to. That hole had been healed already and filled with grace and peace.
We had 2 deliveries at 2 different hospitals the same year. We have 2 birth certificates from the same year. We had 2 sets of OB/GYN visits in 1 year with 2 different doctors.
I luckily have 2 hands and 2 arms that have definitely developed some interesting skills. I can scoop up both kids at the same time with no baby carriers from their cribs and run down stairs if I need to. I can feed them simultaneously and make bottles with one hand. I was a lifeguard in high school and constantly feel like my head is on that swivel and often needing to dive in.
We have 2 beautiful daughters and are convinced there are 2 boys out there somewhere in time that we cannot wait to say yes to claiming as a part of our family. I am grateful to God we were prepared for the surprise of #2 so close to #1.
Yes, twins would be easier. But, that would not be the same story, would not illustrate the same reach of the hand of God to even someone as insignificant as me. God reached down obviously with a smile on His face and answered prayers for our family. Then He doubled our blessing. Words will never capture the gratitude of my heart for being chosen for this task . When God knocks on the door of your heart, don't just crack the door and peak out fearfully as if you are not worthy. Swing it open as wide as the hinges of your heart will allow. God plans good things for you. Plan on those good things being great in number as they reflect His power and concern for even you.
Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
This time of life is quite possibly the sweetest, most cherished time I have had the honor of experiencing yet. It is a close call between this chapter and the newlywed chapter, but I have decided this beats that time because I not only have the greatest husband [for me] but also these two precious little humans.
I am tired. I cry a lot. There is a vast amount of emotions raging on any given day at any given time. But this? This is what I am doing: being mama, kissing toes, bouncing babies, singing songs, praying, reading, soothing sadness.
In talking with a mentor, Jenny, I asked her if I should feel guilty for allowing my heart to crack wide open and cherish every moment. She responded with absolutely not...more people should feel the freedom to do that. We decided it is this deep gratitude that keeps me going when my eyes are at their heaviest, when I am certain I cannot keep going. We decided it is the absolute thankfulness that enables me, us, to enjoy this beautiful chaos of craziness.
Some moments it is hard to find strength to give thanks. Some moments, the exhaustion pulls heavily on not only my eye lids but my entire being, making me wonder who in theworld had it in their right mind to siphon the caffeine out of all of the coffee; I only expect it to pull harder, tempting me to drown into frustration. But that is not what I want for me or my family.
So how do we do it?
We just do it, and it's fun. It's fun because we find joy in it, even in the grossness silliness of squirt poops and constant spit-up and 6-month old tantrums with the arched back and all. Gratitude. Gratitude is strengthening. Gratitude is joyful. Gratitude is beautiful, radiating from the heart within and spreading out over our home.
And when I cannot seem to get past frustration at 3 am because I have been up since 12:30 am, all I have to do is recount the story of whichever baby I am soothing. I simply run through my mind finding out I was pregnant again; I recall FaceTiming Emily and Anthony; I remember the entire pregnancy and how He forged my heart and grew my soul and molded me through a painful sort of faith, being stretched out wide like silly putty. I go over the memories of waiting, of wanting, of praying, of fundraising an impossible-seeming amount...of the weeks leading up to hearing about our firstborn, wondering when it would be our turn, feeling the void in my very soul for his very life, and suddenly hearing about him and then meeting him 15 hours later, holding and calling him ours as though I had birthed him myself. I remind myself of the intense miracles that these boys are; they are miracles drenched in His redemption meeting our expectation and hope. In remembering their miraculousness, thanks and awe tears are a natural response through salty tasting tears. The tears that sting my eyes at 2 am when I am so exhausted I am sure I cannot keep going...they are healing tears. Tears that usher in thanks, heart turned upwards humbled by His authorship.
How do we do it?
We do it through gratitude. One day at a time, one moment at a time, grace by grace discovered in the treasure that is pure gratitude.