I recently spent the weekend in a house with a newborn baby–that makes him, like, half of a set of twins. It seemed surreal, but not for the reasons you might think. You see, my oldest is seven and the twins are four years old now, so I can barely remember what the first few months are like with any newborn. Was it crazy and hectic and loud and chaos everywhere and baby gear strewn all over? Because if I have any memory of life with newborns, that’s the one which stuck.
But this house–the one with the newborn–was so peaceful and quiet. The shutters stayed closed and so light was dim, the kitchen was spotless, the fridge full of meals, and the house was so spendidly quiet. “You just had a baby?”, I thought when I first walked in. “What baby? I see no evidence of a baby. This place smells nice–like pumpkin spice boutique hand soap, instead of old baby urp gone rancid on the cloth diaper we used to catch it days before. There are no bottles lined up to dry on the counter next to the sink. Your trash can isn’t overflowing with takeout boxes. How do you keep your hair combed? Where are the used breast pads tucked into every crevice? Or a crying baby? Where is the baby? Do you even keep a baby here?”
Something occurred to me, during one of many of the quiet moments I spent with my arms full of eight pounds of serenity–something to which many parents of multiples can relate, I’m sure. Here I was, tasked (temporarily) with loving and caring for one single wee baby human by myself. I was overwhelmed with love and awe etc, but not overwhelmed with my situation. I had one arm for the baby and another arm to do whatever I needed to do. I had more arms than babies! What a change! I was entirely focused on this one baby’s wants, needs, squeaks and squirms and still had enough multitasking mojo to go to the powder room for a quick pee while I did it and he didn’t know the difference. I could sit with this swaddled symbol of hope for the future of mankind and reflect on life, memorize his face, wonder if his parents own baby nail clippers, and simply be in the moment. There was no craziness. No chaos. It was simple. But I can’t remember having those moments with my own kids. The hurricane of diapers, crying, colic, that multiples bring with them overwhelmed me four years ago and all I’ve known since then is this mass confusion and memory loss and uncombed hair (that applies to all the hair in the family for which I am responsible). It’s been four years since that hurricane showed up and today my socks don’t match. Again. Still.
Do you think about that much, fellow parents of multiples? Do you ever even sort-of wish you could just have one more, just to experience a newborn in a relatively controlled fashion? I meet so many people (they’re always women–always) who “always wished I would have twins!”, and I know what they mean (twice the love, twice the matching outfits, etc, I get it), but I know they’re not thinking about a more difficult and uncomfy pregnancy, double the co-pays for every pediatrician visit (unless you’re in Canada, eh), double the diaper cost, double the Happy Meals, double the insanity. I love my twins–oh my holy hell do I adore them and would never change a thing–but I just got wistful at the idea (and possible memory) of what it’s like to just have one during those newborn weeks. To be just one person’s mom for a bit. To not be overwhelmed to such an extreme degree. To actually remember anything about the first four months (that one, possibly, is a universal wish regardless of how many were in your litter).
I could never hold both twins while I visited the powder room for a quick pee. You’d have to have one more arm than you have babies for that trick. When Mother Nature gives you twins, Mother Nature needs to follow up with a third arm. Seriously.
Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl. Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at byrdsforacure.org.