30 Weeks and a Missed Deadline

As of tomorrow, I am 30 weeks pregnant.

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When I found out I was having twins, and I began reading about how half of twin pregnancies end by 36 weeks, I made a 3-page to do list and set a date by which I hoped to complete our biggest preparations: 30 weeks. This list included purchasing a van to fit our whole family and at least owning two car seats, whether or not they were installed. It included having our baby shower so we could purchase the items we still needed. Not on the list, but inscribed into each line, was the goal that, by 30 weeks, I would be mentally prepared to have twins.

Well, folks. I confess: I am not ready to have twins. I still don’t really want twins at all.

Which is not to say that I don’t want each of the two little girls gestating in my body. I want them both. I want to hold them and fall in love with them. I want to be their mother.

But I don’t want to be a mom of twins. And I don’t think I will ever be ready for their birth, for the early weeks of their lives and all the upheaval they will bring, or for the ways my relationships with my husband and son will change through that time.

I wrote extensively about the ambiguity I felt as a new mom in my chapbook, which will be published around the same time these girls are born, and it all feels kind of fitting. I struggled back then. In some ways I am now more prepared than I was with my son, but in so many ways, I might as well be starting from scratch. I don’t yet have experience soothing two babies at once, wearing two babies at once, dividing my focus from baby to baby to toddler, tandem breastfeeding, going in public as a three-ring circus. I don’t know how to be whatever it is I will be.

I guess I didn’t know how to be a mom before I was one either.

The biggest obstacle to me accepting and relishing my role as a mother was how my reality didn’t quite match my expectations. I’d had visions of some other kind of experience than the one I lived every day. It left me with the constant sense that something, or everything, was just not right. It took me a long time to see that, when I saw my life for what it was, and I dealt with it as it was instead of how it should have been, I could finally accept it (all of it, good and bad) and work with it. That lesson applies here, too, though I am trying, and I am struggling.

I’ve been getting hung up on every little thing, all the choices I don’t get to make, all the extra expenses, everything I feel I can’t control. But the root of it all is that I didn’t choose the main thing. I didn’t choose to have twins. I thought I’d be over that by now. 30 weeks seems like a long enough time. Apparently I will just have to keep working at it. I imagine I will have to keep working at it in various ways well after they are born.

Until late last night, this thought really scared me. It made me think I was destined for depression again and that I would morph into a terrible mother. Now I just think, That’s okay. It takes whatever it takes. I didn’t tell my son I loved him until he was three months old, and I am madly in love with him now. Sometimes, we just have to find our own way in. Although I can’t see it now, I trust that I’ll find my way into this one, too.

Do Your Best

I called my blog Micro-Affections because I thought I would write all these smallish posts about things that make me feel good or might make others feel good. But I also have a tendency to be a bit of a pessimist. So maybe it was wishful thinking?

I haven’t written much lately because the thing at the forefront of my thoughts is my body and the ways it feels like it’s falling apart and the fact that it will be taxed and strained even more, for a couple more months, before it can get better. Every day, I am in pain. I don’t know how to describe this pain to my OB or my chiropractor. I don’t know how to get any real relief aside from no longer being pregnant. I wonder, often, if they knew what I’m really dealing with, if there would be some more direction for me, some better answers. I appreciate the way pregnancy grounds me in the physical, makes me more aware of my body. Unlike my first pregnancy, though, this time I feel bogged down by it. I want a little less body connection and a little more daydreamy pregnancy bliss.

I don’t think I’ve accepted that I’m going to actually have two babies at the end of this. I don’t know if I really can accept that before it happens.

In the last few days, I’ve found myself more enamored than usual with my son. He has been playing word games and coming up with his own stories, his own little rules. Sometimes, as the evening winds down, I’ve thought, Let him stay up. Don’t stop this. I’ve worried — of course I’ve worried — that the twins will command too much attention. I’ve worried he might shrink up into himself, or turn away from me harder than I can take. I’ve worried that his beautiful personality will fade. These last few days have nearly broken my heart, in both good and bad ways. When loved ones say, “He will be a good brother,” I want to say, “He doesn’t have to be. He can just be himself. He is good no matter what.” I don’t want him to feel pressured, to internalize these sentiments as an indication of his worth — that it’s now tied to his sisters. I want him to be allowed to be exactly who he is, because who he is is so lovely.

We just had a beautiful baby shower with many friends and loved ones. The company was great. The weather was gorgeous. We received some really touching gifts and written sentiments. I thought the shower would help me accept what’s coming. Instead, I think, There is so much left to do, buy, arrange. I could check 100 items off a list and still feel unprepared.

Yesterday, my son started asking me if the things he was doing were perfect, or if what he’d made was perfect. Today it was how he was filling a bucket with sand to make a sand castle. I said, “That looks great!” Then, “You don’t have to be perfect. You should just try to do your best.” But he cried and wailed, “I do have to be perfect!” He disagrees with us on everything, in just this way, so I tried not to read too much into his exact words. But I quickly ran through the things I may have said recently, either to him directly or when he was present, to figure out if I am creating anxiety in my two-and-a-half-year-old. Sometimes, I think to myself, I do have to be perfect. I don’t want that for him. I don’t want it for myself, either.

During the baby shower, I got a rejection for something I wrote. I didn’t really mind. I can’t decide if that’s good or bad.

I still don’t exactly want twins. But I would be devastated to lose them now.

One of the hawks that lives behind my house has a messed up wing. It still flies just fine, but it is missing several feathers toward the tip of the wing. I always hear it before I see because it screeches a lot. I’m sure it knows what it’s doing, but sometimes I wonder if it scares away potential prey because it can’t keep quiet. Maybe it is just reveling in flight, though. Maybe it just likes how a piercing squawk sends all the little neighborhood creatures ducking for cover.

Sometimes, that’s how I want to use my voice, too.

My Actual Pregnant Body

Two weekends ago, my husband, toddler, and I went to Target for the week’s groceries. In recent weeks, Josh has made this trip either alone or with just our son while I stay home and rest. He does this because walking and standing and even sitting upright for longer than ten minutes wears me out now, because I’m pregnant with twins. He does it because he is a good partner and father.

This particular day, for whatever reason, I thought I was up for the trip. I think I just wanted to spend more time with my family after a busy few days. (We had just bought a minivan, which involved several hours at a dealership over three days, but that’s a whole other story.) Within five minutes of standing in line to return some items at customer service, I was uncomfortable, light-headed, a little breathless. I started doing some really unflattering stretches, resting my forehead on the cart handle and bending forward with my butt sticking out to take some pressure off my back. [Read more…]

On Accepting Help

I had postpartum anxiety, OCD, and depression with my first baby. I’m trying hard to make the best preparations I can for myself and my family with these twins so that I can avoid or address it this time. I did a lot on my own last time, not because my husband slacked off or something, but because I was alone while he worked and because I felt very possessive of the baby and in need of control. A lot of things felt very out of control for me then.

This time, I want to accept more help and learn to live with less control, but the help I’ve already had is stressing me out, making me very vulnerable, and in some ways really disrupting me emotionally. I need a particular kind of help to feel okay. I do not currently feel okay. But I’m not in a position to take care of everything myself with such a tiring pregnancy. [Read more…]