Last week, my beautiful twins turned 4 years old. I remember the day I decided to share on my blog that I got the world’s greatest 2-for-1 deal. Oh man, I was not expecting that ultrasound tech to show me two babies on the monitor that day. I’ll never, ever forget how the hubs and I felt in that moment knowing that our lives would truly never be the same.
The early days of having them started out so exciting, but as both kids went to the NICU, it was bleak and dark. Even now, I try to stretch my mind to remember what it was like but my brain, protecting me from the truth, often comes up empty.
No one can prepare you for having your own kids, no matter how many siblings you have – no matter how many kids you babysat growing up. It’s just so different when they’re yours. The intensity of those early days rocked our world.
We moved across the country with them when they were 5 weeks old. We stopped at rest stops all the way from Louisiana to New Jersey with these teeny, tiny preemie babies. Our daughter was on a heart monitor that had to be plugged in and charged along the way. I’m sure everyone who saw us at those rest stops thought we were nuts.
Ruthlessly Pursuing Dreams
As I reflect back on the past four years with our twins, I know our lives could have been so much easier had we taken a different path. And yet, we have no regrets.
In 2011, the hubs moved to the Caribbean to start his medical school journey. Then, after three years there, we came back to the States for him to complete his final two years of medical school.
With all of his in-classrom work done, he still had two years of training inside of a hospital left. We knew we’d have to move to whatever hospital his school assigned him to after I had the twins, but we were hoping to have more time at home with our families in Louisiana.
Days after they were born, hubs got an e-mail that said he had to move to New Jersey in 17 days. I’ll never forget that – 17 days.
There we were in this pretty nursery I planned and decorated with these tiny, tiny babies and suddenly we knew we had just over 2 weeks to find a place to rent site unseen, pack up a house, and move – with newborn twins.
All the details are fuzzy, but I remember it was only a few days before we actually moved that we got an apartment and overnighted a check for $6,500 to pay for our deposit, first, and last month’s rent in New Jersey – a sum I painstakingly saved before the twins arrived.
Why did we go through all of that? It would have been so much easier to stay in Louisiana where our kids have 4 grandparents, tons of aunts and uncles, and a strong culture of food, fun, and faith that both of us grew up in.
And yet, sometimes in order to achieve great things, you have to do what is uncomfortable.
After finishing half of medical school, there was no option to quit – hard as it was to leave everyone and everything to move to a state neither one of us had ever been to.
So, we packed those little babies up, and we put them in the car. We drove for 3 days to get to New Jersey. We arrived on a Saturday night and that Monday morning the hubs started his 3rd year of medical school and I stayed home with the twins.
Being a Work-at-Home Mom
In those early days, I was trying so hard to survive. The hubs was gone long hours at the hospital and I had two tiny babies who needed me – a lot. I was working on my business, squeezing in blog posts while the twins napped. I stayed up late writing, woke up every few hours throughout the night to feed the twins, and it was all quite difficult and a blur.
In those early days, I questioned my choice to stay home. For years I’d worked on my business at night after work just so that I could stay home with my kids one day and still have a career.
When I was working towards that goal, I had no idea I was going to have twins. I had visions of me joyfully writing on a laptop with a sweet sleeping baby strapped to my chest. Obviously, that did not happen.
When they were three months old, I asked the hubs if I could go to Starbucks and write while he watched the twins. I only had an hour or two since the kids needed me to eat, but I went anyway.
I sat there in Starbucks with tears streaming down my face and wrote an article for The Huffington Post that went insanely viral.
Hundreds of thousands of people read what my first three months of motherhood was like. I even put on some makeup and did a video interview with the Huffington Post while two babysitters watched the kids in the other room. (Yes, I was so nervous to have a babysitter watch them without me that I asked two of them to be there.)
Still, even though I got everything I wanted, most importantly the ability to stay home and work while being with my kids, I battled severe post-partum depression.
I struggled hard with unwanted thoughts, terrible things that jumped in my brain in the early days. As a more experienced mom now, I now know this is actually quite common, and I’m not the only one who experienced it. Still, when you’re in the moment, you think something is extremely wrong with you.
I got the help I desperately needed, but it was a long road to get me back to who I wanted to be — longer than I expected. Even today, I have to start each day with a positive mindset, practice patience, and take the time for self-care. I know how dark things can be at the bottom, and I don’t want to go back there.
Moving to Michigan
When the twins were 2, hubs applied for residency positions — training necessary after medical school to become a fully licensed physician. Much like the time we got assigned to New Jersey when the kids were newborns, Hubs opened up an email that said we were moving to Michigan for the next four years for his residency position.
We had some time to prepare for that move, and after hubs finished medical school, we even took a month-long trip to Europe as a family with the kids which, for some reason, did not seem like it would be hard at the time (it was.)
Our time in Michigan has been good. My business grew a lot and I worked from home with the help of a babysitter, who came to my house 15 hours a week. She was a God send because among other things, she helped me potty train the twins, which was, like everything else, not an easy task.
I was able to work with top brands, got to fly back to New York city to shoot videos, and I even wrote two children’s books as part of a series called The Twins Go.
The twins don’t know that they lived in 3 different states before they were 3. Most of their early memories will be here in this house in Michigan. They don’t know about all the times we moved and why we did it – to provide a better life for them. We’ll tell them, of course, as time goes on.
Mostly, I want them to know that if they have a goal or a dream, it’s worth pursuing, even when it would be so nice and cozy and comfortable to keep with the status quo.
Age 4 is Great
When I was in counseling after the twins were born, trying to break free of my depression, my counselor told me that not all moms like the newborn stage. Some do, but if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. She told me to just wait and see how much fun it would be once they started talking and interacting with me.
She was right. And, I could cry writing this with relief that she was right.
The twins as toddlers were just as tough as the newborn days, but once they hit age 3.5, the skies started to clear.
One day, a few months before she turned 4, my daughter helped herself to a piece of bread. She put jelly on it and then made one for her twin brother – just completely on her own without me asking.
Then, my son started to be able to open the car door on his own. He opens it for his twin sister, then runs around the car and opens his own door. They can both get their carseat straps on and close the first buckle.
My daughter picks out her outfit for the next day every evening. My son can zip up his own jacket. They can tell me when they’re hungry, when they’re hurt, and why.
They understand rewards and punishments, and I swear, 4 year old kids have to be the most hilarious people on the planet. They crack me up all day long. The things they say will make you double over with laughter.
Really, I’m cherishing our bond more than ever. I’m so grateful to start the day with them each day, and although the hubs and I discipline often and consistently and sometimes annoyingly, the lessons are starting to sink in. The please’s and thank you’s are coming without reminding. My son is holding open doors for ladies at the gym. They put their plates in the sink and rinse them off. They put their toys back in the playroom. Not all the time, but it’s getting more frequent.
Do they misbehave? Yes. Do they fight with each other? Plenty. But, they are able to reason so much more now and would rather stop bad behavior than lose a toy or get put in time out. It’s so much better than age 2 or 3, when there were a lot more tantrums and a lot less communicating.
I write all of this with such relief because I know they’re going to get more and more independent as time goes on. I write this with relief because on most days, I really, truly enjoy being a mom — and in the beginning, I was so worried that I never would.
These two little people, the Beans, are the absolute loves of our lives. I am filled with gratitude more than I’ve ever felt before when I see them together. I think about how lucky I am to have them and that they have each other.
It’s not always easy, and there are still a lot of ups and downs – especially with the intensity of the hubs’ schedule – but for now, the clouds have parted, and I am finally living out the dream I had for my family. I love these babies so much, and I’m so happy they’re mine. <3
How old were your kids when they started being much easier?!