I’m just going to say it… Having newborn twins is a gargantuan pain in the ass. There. It’s out there. I’m not going to sugar coat this thing by saying how magical everything is and how rainbows and moonbeams flow from our household like unrestrained rivers of milk and honey. No, it’s more like stress and poop and sleep deprivation.
That being said, we do love the little twerps, even if we don’t like them all the time. They are lucky they are cute, otherwise we’d have already sold them to the gypsies long ago.
What follows is a list of all the stuff I want to bitch about these past 3 months. So, if you have an idealized vision of what having twins is like and don’t want to ruin that with reality, I suggest you stop reading now. Oh, and Alex and Meri… if you’re reading this at some point in the future, know this. Payback is coming…
Let’s get the big one out of the way. Obviously, everyone knows that with any kid your sleeping goes straight into the toilet. Intellectually, I knew this was coming. However, there is no way to really prepare yourself for just what happens once they arrive. When you’re pregnant, other parents always say, “be sure to stock up on extra sleep… you’re gonna need it! Har har har, ” they chuckle. You know what I say? Screw that. If you are having twins my advice is this. About a month before they are born start weaning yourself OFF of sleep. Seriously. Get yourself down to 5-6 hours max… preferably with an hour break in the middle somewhere. That way you’ll be able to function for that first month. It took me at least a full month of serious pain before I reached a place where I could be trusted to even look at heavy machinery. At least I’ve reached a place after 3 months where I’m functional, but I’m still not enjoying myself.
It’s like this. You don’t have an option with twins. Conceivably, if you just had one kid parents could maybe switch off nights and let the other sleep. With twins you are both up every time. No if’s, and’s or but’s. I kinda equate it to this scene in the movie Goodfellas (caution, rough language). “You’re really tired? F*-you… feed me. You’ve got a wicked cold? F*-you… feed me. You honestly think you might die if you don’t sleep? F*-you… feed me.” These twin girls are like little mob bosses. No flexibility. You do it their way or you’re in for a LOT more pain.
People always ask us, “Do you have family in the area to help?” Of course, we have a lot of family in the area and they have helped us out. But you know what? Not one of them has ever been there at 3am when we could really really really use the help. You know why? BECAUSE BEING UP AT 3AM, ESPECIALLY FOR EVERY NIGHT FOR MONTHS, TOTALLY SUCKS. This may just be the deprivation talking, but I don’t like any of my family members enough to go to their houses in the middle of the night, either. Ya know… no offense…
You’re probably thinking, “hey asshole… why don’t you just nap?” Like it’s that simple. Jess, being home with the girls alone all day, considers it a major win if she can get 20 minutes of sleep during the day when one or both girls aren’t squaking. I don’t know how they do it, but they seem to know just when the other one is falling asleep that it is then your turn to crank it up. It never fails. Last weekend Jess’s sister was in town and I was able to sneak away for a 2 hour nap. I would have thought that would be worth a mint. However, when I woke up I was WAY more tired than when I fell asleep. I was seriously groggy and stumbling around the house for 3 hours after that nap. I was a danger to myself and others. Note to self… just keep going. Naps will just hurt you more in the long run.
I’ll just throw feedings in general in here. They are brutal. It is really tough living in a world where every 4 hours something is going to happen that you dread. Normally, you may think that 4 hours is a long time, but let me tell you. When another feeding is staring you in the face, it feels like 15 minutes. The stress of getting them to eat sometimes can be overwhelming. It’s really fun when they wake up and cry that they’re hungry… then DON’T eat for 45 minutes.
I’ve decided that I liked the first morning feeding the best. Mainly because even though I was getting up for the day and there was no more sleep, but at least the sun started to come up. I could get a cup of coffee. I didn’t have to worry about trying to get any more sleep. It was just time to go to work. Which, at least, gave me a break from the girls.
There are times… like every 4am… where you honestly wonder if it will ever end. You are so delirious that you can’t imagine a time when this will all be just another faded horrible memory. I long for those days.
For the record, the lack of sleep is a major factor in each and every one of the other list items to follow.
One thing that Jess and I enjoyed pre-kids was cooking. Spending a little quality time in the kitchen trying out a new recipe, eating it, then cleaning up and closing the dishes. Since the girls were born? Fuggedaboutit. Let’s break this down piece by piece. First off, you’re so wore out that the very idea of expending the energy to create a whole meal sounds like someone asking, “Hey… you wanna go rock climbing right now?” The answer is no. You really don’t want to break out everything you need to cook, the ingredients and pots & pans. Which, doesn’t matter because you won’t have time to eat what you prepare anyway because at least one kid will lose their shit before you can get a single bite into your mouth. Finally, the only thing you want to do LESS than get everything out to cook is washing everything and putting it away. That’s like asking “wanna go rockclimbing while I repeatedly punch you in the face?”. Again… answer = no.
Early on after the girls were born, we had lots of good friends and family bringing us meals. That was tremendous. We could just pull something from the fridge or freezer, pop it in the oven and even though we didn’t have time to eat, we could at least have something good and homemade to cram into our faces in 30 seconds flat.
However, that couldn’t last forever. We have reached a point now where a good 3 or 4 times a week, we’ll finally finish a feeding at 7:30pm or something and look at each other like “oh god… now we have to figure out food.” You know what happens more often than not? We decide we’ll just “snack” for dinner, where “snack” is a euphemism for “maybe we’ll eat something or more likely not.”
The few times that we do actually manage to make something resembling a meal, say like tacos or something, you are still forced to eat at mach 2. Why? Well, for me I know one of the girls will not sit quietly for the 15 minutes it would take for both of us to eat together. Jess usually volunteers first watch, so I wolf mine down mainly so her’s won’t be stone cold when she gets to eat. Plus, the other one could lose it any second. Life is better with free hands.
Plus side? I’m losing weight. Stress and not eating will do that to ya, I suppose.
Leaving the House
Having any kid will create a massive amount of crap you need to take along with you whenever you decide to leave the house. Twins? That amount is exponentially raised. When we bought our mid-size SUV last summer I never imagined that we could run out of space. Well… yeah. Even collapsed, a double stroller is giant. And it’s not just the amount of stuff you have to remember to take with you. Honestly, it is the stress of wondering if a meltdown of epic proportions is going to happen upon your arriving at your destination. Nothing in the world is worse than spending the 45 minutes of assembling the crap and prepping the girls to go out only to get there and they both freak out inconsolably. Not good times. Life right now is about doing what you can to make things simpler… and that ain’t it.
Not to mention that it has been winter. Jess especially has been cooped up in the house for so long. At least I’ve been able to go to work. We have taken them for a few walks around the neighborhood on the couple of warmish days we’ve had, but not enough to feel like you have done anything but sit around the house and watch Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives for the 409th time.
I love to read. In fact, Jess just bought me a new Amazon Kindle for my birthday in November and I love that thing. However, nowadays if I attempt to read anything longer than a paragraph or 2, chances are I’m going to pass out. I haven’t hardly touched my Kindle in the past 3 months. It’s kinda like in college when you would attempt to read a text book… You could end up “reading” 3 or 4 pages only to realize you have no idea what the hell you just read. That’s me. In fact, before that 2 hour nap I was reading. Got 2 Kindle page-turns down before I passed out. And we know how that turned out.
Reading is just not enough stimulation to keep my brain going. Maybe someday that ability will return. I sure hope so.
Yes, I know that the girls have only been around for 12 weeks and that we had no vacations planned in that time anyway, but this is a “looking forward” sorta thing. It is more a feeling that the chances of us going anywhere farther than an hour away from our house for at least the next 2 or 3 years is pretty slim.
There are a few factors at play in this one. First, the logistics of packing everything we would need for even a weekend away is WAY too much for us to handle in our current states. For example, Jess, on a whim last fall, bought tickets for the U2 show in Pittsburgh this summer. Her thought was, maybe we could fly with the girls and have the tons of family we have there to watch them. Umm… yeah… this was before the girls actually arrived and reality set in. That’s just not going to happen. I can’t even fathom flying with 2 five-month olds. I’d rather light my own hair on fire. So, I seriously doubt we’re gonna make that show. On the plus side though, who needs 4 tickets?
Secondly, even with all the family help we have in the area, dumping off 2 needy babies on someone for any extended period of time is a very tall order. No offense, but I wouldn’t volunteer to do that for anyone else either.
Watching TV doesn’t help either, since there are shows about traveling and eating all over the place. I’ve been craving a Las Vegas trip badly, however I’m sure I’m waaay too tired to enjoy such a thing right now. I can remember asking Jess one middle of the night a couple months ago if there was a place similar in function to Camp Bow Wow (animal boarding) but for babies. You know… for those couples who need to get away from their kids for a weekend or something. She assured me that their wasn’t. Damn…
Intelligent Conversation and Cognitive Thought
Again, you can probably chalk this one up to the whole sleep thing again. I was home from work for that first painful month and Jess and I spent nearly every waking moment together. We definitely reached a point where there was really nothing more to say to each other. Neither of us had done anything that the other didn’t already know about. Neither of us had seen any TV, read any article, or had any other thought pop into our heads that we hadn’t already shared. So, what did we talk about? The girls, of course. On the couple of occasions when our parents would come by and watch the girls so we could go out to eat together, what did we talk about? You guessed it. The twins. Really, the only interesting thing that happens for that first month is poop. So, that’s what you discuss. Such is life.
Since that first month, there still isn’t much else to talk about. Especially with other people. Twins are our major story line. People see us and ask, “how are the girls?”. Which is fine, but that is basically all we talk about. Plus, since forming thoughts about anything we aren’t immediately experiencing is difficult at best, it’s all we can think to talk about. I’m sure we’ve bored the hell out of some folks out there on Facebook. Oh well. That’s all we have to offer right now.
I’ve tried to keep watching Jeopardy! just to try to keep some of my mental faculties about me. Sometimes it works… sometimes it doesn’t. Also, during the morning feeding we would watch the Today show, and I would just spend the whole time ripping on what I was seeing. The hosts, the guests, the dumbass stories, and even dumber commercials. I think Jess secretly enjoyed that and I know it felt good for me to vent a little. Don’t get me started on the Realtor they have on there from time to time…
You know what the first thing to go is when you have no time and no energy? Keeping up on yourself. I was one of those type of guys who wouldn’t leave the house in just a t-shirt or sweatpants. I just didn’t. Those days are long gone. There are days where you feel like you should shower, but you just can’t drag yourself to do it. Sometimes 2 days. Sometimes 3 days. Meh. How about fixing your hair, feel like doing that? Um, no. I don’t. Shaving? Pass… Wanna wear some item of clothing that doesn’t have spit-up on it? Maybe, but I don’t actually wanna do anything about it. Laundry? Thank god Jess stayed on top of that otherwise I would be wearing pajama pants and old T-shirts 2 sizes too small right now.
Free Time or Leisurely Anything
Duh. You have no free time. That concept has ceased to exist in your world. Gone are the days of a needed 20 minute shower. Want to do a little video gaming? Dream on. Hey the new ESPN Magazine came… Well, tough shit cause you don’t have time to look at it. One good thing about it being winter is there isn’t currently any yard work to be done. I can’t imagine what my lawn would have looked like if these girls had been born in July. We did actually watch a movie on HBO the other night. Of course, there was a 30 minute break in the middle where we had to attend to other things, but we finished it. And neither of us fell asleep. That’s a plus.
Now… all that being said, there are some positives. When they smile at you, it can sorta mask all the other shit they put you through. However, when they’d rather smile at 4 in the morning than eat, it’s not quite as cute. But really, when stuff really sucks, it certainly gives you something to look forward to. So that’s nice.
Another great thing is that Jess and I have probably only grown closer together throughout this. You hear about how kids often times puts strain on marriages. Well, I’d say we’re going in the opposite direction. It’s us against the world and we’re gonna win. I love you baby.
Someday all of these things will return and we’ll laugh about it… Someday.
Remember how I said I would get revenge on these girls when the time came? Well, I’m going to take extreme glee in waking them up when they are teenagers, at ungodly times in the morning, for absolutely no good reason… all while I cackle in delight. Man, I can’t wait.