There should be a more culturally inclusive term for “Irish twins.” Clearly, “Irish twins” is a derogatory expression. However, there is value in a phrase that adequately describes the experience of giving birth to two babies within twelve months. “Twins” is not an accurate term but “giving birth to two children” also falls short.
Accidentally pregnant when you are postpartum with a newborn? Trust me, it’s a different vibe.
I started to suspect something was off when I felt very emotional (a telltale pregnancy sign for me) when caring for my two-year-old and three-month-old. My husband rolled his eyes at my concern and said, “Take a test so you’ll feel better.” We dug up a leftover pregnancy test from the previous year. Resisting the urge to vomit at the idea (another pregnancy sign), I agreed.
Four minutes later, my husband says, “See, I told you you’re not pregnant.” My nails dug deeper into his shoulder, as I pointed to the two lines on the test.
My husband hugged me and sheepishly said, “I love you?” I went silent for the next few hours.
Two days later and still shellshocked, I met with my dissertation chair in her office, covered in wall-to-wall textbooks. We met relatively often as I trudged through my dissertation, but always ended the meeting with the same question. “So, what is the timeline for my graduation?”
My chair laughed, as that question had been asked many, many times before. “I think you should be on track to graduate this semester, as long as you don’t get pregnant again.”
I froze, horrified that for the second time, I would be confessing my pregnancy status to my dissertation chair before I told my mother. “Actually… I am pregnant again. And I’m not kidding.”
A mutually awkward silence filled the room. I realized this would be a theme for having two babies in one year.
I learned a lot that year. I learned that despite what the internet says about safely breastfeeding while pregnant, my OBGYN disagrees. I got fired from breastfeeding.
I learned that you can cherish your baby and try to memorialize the milestones, but hormones blur the memories. Although I knew my baby was well loved, I often apologized to her because she was never the sole star of the show.
I learned that people are judgmental and outspoken on the topic of your pregnancy. Complete strangers would laugh at me as I pushed my stroller with a toddler, baby, and a giant belly in tow. On a summer day, I was seven months pregnant and sprawled out on our bed in an attempt to fold clothes. The air conditioning repair man took one look at my belly and said, “Do I need to talk to Blake about how babies get made?”
Good one. You’re hilarious.
Furthermore, I learned that moms can do anything, but not everything. A pregnant mom can return next-day dissertation edits if she must – while her toddler colors at her desk and her baby lies in her dock-a-tot. Priorities must shift, drama is cut, and you can get (some) things done. A baby growing in your belly while you hold your baby in your arms can make you strong and very motivated.
I also learned that (eventually) I was excited to welcome a new little girl into our family. Despite what seemed like horrific timing, we were able to give my little middle a roommate by adding another crib to the nursery. I often picture myself at ninety years old (sitting on a porch) and imagine what my future opinion will be about my current life choices. Me at 90? I will feel blessed to have had three babies, even if two of them were born in the same year. That said, even at 90, I will candidly admit how difficult having two babies in one year was.
Birthing two babies in one year is brutal. Indescribable exhaustion. Three kids pushed us over the edge. Daily life was no longer manageable, the circus had overrun us. When a parent is that outnumbered by so many littles, you realize pandemonium is the current season. Making peace with the chaos is the only way through.
In more quiet moments, I savored the heaven of my little middle resting her head on my new baby’s belly. Not to be left out, my toddler would climb over to join the sister snuggles. Those snuggles got us through. They still do, on some days.
For nine days in August, I have two children who are the same age. I am a more tired, overwhelmed mom who is so proud to post pictures of the adorable roommates. This morning, they held hands as they walked to the car for their sister’s morning ride to school. Clara and Coco are best friends in a way that is only possible if two sisters are basically the same age.
For our family, I am grateful that God has a different vantage point and ideas on family planning. Having two babies in one year is not easy, but it does happen. So, when I see a mom with a bump and a baby in the grocery store, I don’t laugh. I say, “You’ve got this.”
Because she will. Eventually.