Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Gaggle of Twin Freaks

A week ago I attended my first EMOMs event.  EMOMs stands for — wait for it — Eastside Mothers of Multiples.  Yes, it’s a real club.   And yes, I was a little cagey about attending a meeting.

Something about the concept of the group hinted at a freak-show…like gathering because we all have red hair or we’re all left-handed, both clubs for which I would be eligible for membership but wouldn’t attend if you paid me.

Right before walking in I said a quick prayer that this would be helpful, not intimidating, and not make me feel like I had just joined an illicit underground network of society.  All of these prayers were answered.

First of all, there were snacks, which always warms this pregnant lady to a group of people.  Secondly, people were sitting awkwardly at various tables, not speaking, and I made the Herculean effort of sitting at a table occupied by just one couple  and introducing myself (and my snacks).  I normally loathe this sort of interaction, but my desperation to learn from the bedraggled experience of others pushed me outside my normal confines.  It turns out that being a member of EMOMs has two sides to the coin: you don’t know anyone in the room, but you have endless discussion topics with everyone because what you have in common bonds you instantly.

I found it amusing that everyone put on name tags with their twin stats:

Sarah
B/G 2 years

Adrienne
G/G 15 mos

I didn’t know this little rule so my name tag just said my name.   I suppose it could have said, “Abby, B/G due in a month” but my stomach was doing all of the talking.  Every person introduced themselves with an incredibly detailed rundown, but it didn’t sound at all TMI to me, because I  wanted to know every detail of others’ experiences.

“Hi I’m Jen, I have fraternal twin boys who are 23 months and were born at 36 weeks 5 days via c-section.”  Sometimes they’d state where they gave birth or if their kids had to be in the NICU.  It was like listing war wounds from ‘Nam in a support group while everyone nodded in understanding.

Nearly everyone already had their twins; there were only two other pregnant women in attendance.  But it was shocking to me how veteran I felt compared to them — they were saying things like “My doctor told me a lot of twin moms stop work at 28 weeks” and I found myself replying “That’s really only if you’re on bed-rest or having complications.  I’m 32 weeks and still working full-time.  You’ll be fine.”

We separated into groups based on the ages of our children, so I was in the first year group.  Our discussion topic was “Feeding the Whole Family” and they passed out great recipes for protein snacks to grab while breastfeeding your litter.  Naturally, a big part of feeding your whole family in the first few months is relying on others to do so — they highly recommended taking advantage of the free meal support EMOMs offers or having friends and family deliver dinners.  After the initial survival period, they recommended time-savers like crock-pot meals and roasted chicken from the grocery store.

It wasn’t long before we were swapping tips on everything from breastfeeding to sleep schedules, with reviews of baby products mixed in.  I grabbed for a pencil and started scribbling notes while eating my second cookie.   It was incredible to have an entire table of women who were going through exactly what I was, and some who even said, “Don’t listen to the people who say your life is over and this is the worst, hardest thing you’ll ever do.  It’s not that bad; you can do it!”

It’s a welcome sentiment right now, because lately I oscillate between uncontrollable excitement at meeting the babies, and mind-freezing terror at what lies ahead of me.  At any given moment I’m either ecstatic with anticipation or paralyzed with fear.  From what I’m told,  this is normal.  Mike feels the same way, and it’s amusing when we’re having opposite experiences.

“Oh my gosh can you imagine that a month from now we’ll be cuddling them and holding them all day?” one of us will say happily.

“Holy crap, it’s all day.  It’s every day, with two, and twenty diapers a day, and what if they scream all the time?” the other will reply, hunched in panic.

This is why I’ll continue to attend EMOMs events.  I need the cold shower of reality mixed with the soothing balm of reassurance.  And snacks.  I need lots of snacks.

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Verbal Birth Control

Even though the vast, vast majority of people I encounter are really excited when they hear I’m carrying twins, nearly every interaction includes the following statement:

“A boy and a girl!?  Perfect!  One and done!”

I expected this a little bit, because most people prefer to have two children, but I didn’t expect it to be such a resounding sentiment used so frequently.  I had no idea people were so unanimous about two kids being the absolute limit, but now I’m totally convinced it’s society’s standard.

Most times I just smile and agree, because I don’t feel the need to tell the grocery store clerk my family plan of having three or four kids, but sometimes I want to dispel the myth that everyone is only having two kids.  So sometimes I speak up and say that we’re hoping for more.  They usually look at me like I just confessed to being a member of the Duggar family.

Or maybe it’s not two kids, maybe it’s just that everyone thinks that every family needs one of each gender.  I would love to know what women carrying twins of the same sex encounter.  I bet most people say, “Oh two girls?  You’ll have to go for one more to get that boy!”

I realize this is mostly just people filling the space with something to say, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of them end up saying the same thing.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with two-children families, or with wanting one of each gender, it’s just bizarre to me that people forcefully assume that we shouldn’t want any more.

I’ve talked to friends who have three or four kids, and they all mostly say the same thing: people are extremely excited for you for the first two, mildly happy for your third, and then deeply confused/concerned for your fourth.  I’m taking this in and preparing my future replies to people who question our sanity, maybe something sassy, like, “It’s not like I’m asking you to raise them!”

I also find it totally absurd when people cry overpopulation, because it’s just not true in this country.  We’ve been below replacement-level fertility as a nation since 1972 (2.1 children per woman is the amount needed to replace the current population).  Our birth rate as of 2009 is 13.5 births for every 1,000 people.

I’m not advocating for everyone to have ten children; I’m just realizing more and more how off-hand comments to strangers really add up.  My advice to people everywhere: when a woman tells you (or you can’t help but notice) that she’s pregnant, just be happy for her, whether it’s her first or her fifth.  If you loathe the idea of people having gaggles of kids, remind yourself that one day those kids will be paying into your social security, and then go on your merry way.

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