When Three Becomes Five

The news of expecting twins is spreading far and wide. Family members of all shapes and sizes are thrilled. We find out very quickly that this clearly is happening to everyone. Finding out you’re having twins can be compared to being in a car accident, and I have had many those, but those are tales for another day. All of them were never my fault obviously, it’s something you never planned for and certainly never prepared for but once the damage is done and you’re alive and no one is hurt, you are supremely grateful for everything that you have and you hug and love everyone that much more.

The months that follow are riveting. It’s a combination of wild hysteria and complete despair about how are we going to manage and afford this, every cost you budgeted for is doubled. Every room, piece of clothing, child care decision after going back to work is completely questioned and second guessed – get it – second guessed. Every person, who knows a twin, is a twin, who’s second cousin’s mother gave birth to twins or even just walked by a couple of twins, has advice for you.

My doctor has to prepare us for the fact that I have already had one high risk pregnancy and expecting twins is automatically high risk, again, so we were in def con mode, with regards to health and monitoring and frequency of visits.

I had to stop driving very early on, because my belly just expanded at a phenomenal rate. My friends at work would joke about how they saw my belly coming before me 🙂 No-one i.e. husband and mom thought I could do anything. I am very independent in that sense, if I need to take my car in for a service or pay some bills or renew my license or pick up some groceries, I would just go ahead and do it. And now at every turn I needed to ask someone to take me somewhere or do something for me.

At least, this time around I got to have a baby shower. Everyone planned it so early in advance because of what happened last time. My family was adamant that I have that moment, because I missed all the trimmings that come with a normal first pregnancy. Besides we were having 2 babies… presents were necessary!

True to the warnings, of this being a high risk pregnancy, and that I was unlikely to make it to term,  I was admitted to hospital at 31 weeks. I was leaking amniotic fluid and would most likely have to be on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy. I was treated in hospital which resulted in my doctor making a call to deliver the babies the following week.

We went into the operating theater with prior knowledge that our babies would most probably have to spend time in NICU, just like their older brother did. The fact that I was so large, the epidural didn’t quite take so well and I realized I was feeling way more than I should. When my doctor made the incision and I felt it. My eyes were wide like saucers. My pain threshold is quite high, and the feeling was very strange because it bordered on pain but was not quite pain, so I didn’t make a fuss over it. I just grabbed onto my husband’s hand and squeezed for dear life. The opening of the incision wider, moving the organs around (that’s literally what happens, they move your organs) and removing the babies one at a time, I could feel it all. They were born 2 minutes apart. This time I was conscious enough and they were healthy enough, Shukr Alhumdulillah (Thanks and Praise be to Allah), for me see them as soon as they arrived, before being whisked off by a whole host of medical staff. Yet again, the overwhelmed husband, rushes off with the babies, this time less worried about life and death and more trying to keep track of who’s who.

They both weighed over 1 kg and this we knew meant at least a few weeks to gain weight. The extended family was extremely supportive and everyone fussed over my older son. The nurses all knew us from the last time, so the days spent watching over my babies were not as traumatic as it was just three years ago. The one that my heart ached for was my first-born baby, though.  Three years old, his mama all his, for all this time and now his world got turned upside down. He gravitated towards his dad due to my unavailability, which broke my heart a little, but we managed to create a space for him to understand that these two new babies were his also.

It was April 2010, world cup fever was everywhere. South Africa was hosting the FIFA Soccer World Cup and the country was a buzz. We had been in the hospital for about 2 weeks and the nurses approached us to ask if the twins could be mascots for their world cup photos. This was our first encounter with the celebrity known as twins. It was amazing that twins come with magic celebrity, they a little more intriguing to the world, even as tiny premature little birds, just after birth. So we agreed and they got propped up in the little preemie diapers and a soccer ball between them and the familiar green, black, red, blue and gold of our South African flag in the background. Lets just say, you get used to the attention with twins. When they were babies and I dressed them up the same, especially the days in fluffy bear or bunny outfits the attention was definitely nearing Instagram 1 million follower status.

They gained weight beautifully and were released from the ward after 3 weeks and 4 weeks respectively. Managing babies in hospital and a little 3-year-old at home is hard. Then managing two newborns and a three-year old whose world has been turned upside down,  all together. It’s a mess. If you are mom, and you have experienced that first time you bring home that newborn, you know the frenzy your life is as a result of this little new human entering into your life. Think of all of that, having two newborns.

No, they do not sleep at the same time. No, they are not synchronized swimmers who poop and eat and need love at the same time. The only thing they really did synchronized was crying, literally, they may have been crying for completely different reasons but they definitely did cry, a remarkable amount of time, at the same time. And the synchronized crying extended to a 3-year-old, and lastly to me, and maybe to my husband too (but he would deny it)…. insert can’t look monkey face emoji.

I was a zombie, having to endure no sleep, no break from the feeding-burping-changing-cycle , and no time for basic personal hygiene. Looking back its seems crazy how that period of time feels like it’s never going to end and that there is no solution nor end in sight. However, the inner strength and just plain mommy-know-how kicks in. And before you know it, Subhanallah,  you can carry two babies at the same time, one on each hip and follow a three-year old outside as he explains animatedly what he has just seen in the garden. Then you fast forward a few more years and you have three happy little boys, that you’re jumping with on the trampoline to their dismay because you might break it :/ , or they’re riding bicycles in the backyard while you cook dinner or you’re all running after chickens in the afternoon sun.

It’s the most amazing privilege to raise your children. With twins, you have the additional opportunity to see before your eyes how their individual preferences surface. How they may look the same, sometimes talk strangely in the same way but are not at all, the same. I have this responsibility to balance out when people think they are the same and expect them to react in the same way to situations. People who interact with them will often make conclusions about which one is which. Sometimes one will get labeled the sensitive one or the naughty one or the clever one. What those people don’t realize is that each of them has all the qualities that the other has just in different quantities and express them at different times. They are both intelligent, for example, one has an ability with building the most creative Lego gadgets, either space ships or rocket launchers, the other has a particular way with his use of words and imagination, where he would use the most surprising words like ‘fascinated’ in the absolute correct context, where you pause and say where did that come from. They are both funny, one is more creative with his descriptions, the other is more literal with his.  They are both so incredibly loving, one just responds to outward affection and the other to words of encouragement.

Knowing this about them is my job, being able to shield them from the comparisons that people will make is my job and also, allowing them to just be themselves is my job.

All moms say this, but having these three unique individuals with so much personality, who constantly entertain us with their wit and charm and humor, and bless us with their existence, is hands down the best thing I have ever done. They complete our world and ensure that there really never is a dull moment, ever. My heart fills with so much love just thinking of all the moments that have passed and more so,  إن شاء الله‎‎ (If Allah Wills), for all the moments still to come.

 

 

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