People ask allll the time, "How do you do it? I would go crazy if I were you!" Or when they hear we have twin newborns and a 2 and 5 year old - all girls - James and I always get head shakes and disbelief, even looks of pity! But, for us, each of our girls is nothing short of a miracle, a gift, and a blessing. YES! It is hard. It is nonstop. But not nearly as "hard" as what so many people in this world go through! If this is "our hard", thank you Jesus! Yes it is exhausting, but this is just for a season. The up in the middle of the night stage isn't forever, and when it passes, I am confident we will also miss so many things about this short lived stage.
So, how do we do it? What is life with twins and 4 under 5 like? James and I make a great team - I am so thankful God gave me this man for my husband, partner, and father to my kids. He has been so kind as to make the couch his bed. He always takes the first shift, the first middle of the night feed, out in the living room with the babies sleeping in their swings. Then he brings them back to me and I take the next feed or two back in the bedroom with the babies asleep in their glider. On nights when he is off the next day, he lets me sleep until 5, and then I come out to the couch and let him sleep until 10 in the morning. It works great for us! Also, COFFEE!!!!!!! Coffee makes my day! We are just in our routine, we've figured out what works for us, and we get er' done so to say!
Also, having my mom who helps me once or twice a week is also a Godsend. We went on our first date in months this past weekend. We wouldn't expect anyone to handle watching all 4 kids, so James' mom and her husband watched the big girls, while my parents took the babies. We also take turns taking the big girls on "dates" to get them out of the house and give them a chance at being alone with us. When James gets home at night, he holds the babies while I clean up dinner and give the big girls their bath, which also gives me one on one time with them away from the babies. My babies are good nappers during the day which allows for pumping (I am a slave to my breastpump), household duties (which are never caught up - but it isn't about that right? It is about getting through the day and caring for my children ), eating, etc...
I can't leave out my big girls Abby and Emma. First of all they are very good most of the time for me - loud, but good - and do so well at playing together and keeping themselves busy and entertained. They are so creative and funny! Such little joys to me! I am thankful they have each other. Emma is the worlds best big sister! She is so incredibly helpful to me, and at her own will. Occasionally I ask her for help with something and she is happy to oblige, but a lot of the time she just wants to be a little mommy and she is in love with her baby sisters - and they love her too! She can get them to sleep, and she loves making them "cozy spots" on the couch. When I am in a situation where both are crying and I need to make bottles or something of that sort, she is eager to keep them calm and happy, holding whoever needs held, talking and singing to them, and making them smile. Seeing them smile at her is so incredible! She really does help me get through my days!
Speaking of my older girls, that is what is the hardest truly...feeling like they do not get enough attention from me. Actually, feeling like NOBODY gets enough of me. I feel like I am missing out on each of my children in some way because I am spread so thin. If they weren't all so little, I think it would be easier. I do my best to make them all smile and that is where multitasking comes in again. Even if it is simple things, like while I am washing bottles (which it seems like I am constantly doing) I will let the girls fill up the side of the sink we don't use and let them put their feet in and they love it. Or if I am in the middle of cooking I will play "hide the star" with Emma and while she is searching it gives me time to cook, but she thinks we are just playing. Getting Emma involved and taking advantage of the fact that she always wants to "do whatever you are doing mom!" is also pivotal in my day! Teaching her how to chop vegetables and make eggs, cooking desserts and preparing snacks together is fun for her, allows her one on one time with me, while letting me accomplish something as well. I can manage to hold the 3 little ones all together, but any chance I get I am snuggling and holding my Abigail - she is my big affectionate one who always wants me to hold her. I just wish that I had more time to give to them, to teach them more academic and biblical things. I also wish I had more time to just sit and hold my babies. I am always trying to get them to sleep so I can put them down and get the things done I need to - like making meals for the older girls and myself, pumping, washing bottles and my pump, making dinner, folding wash etc... I rarely get a chance to just hold and enjoy my babies. When I do, even then I am not giving just one attention, it is divided between the two. This hands down is the hardest part of having four wee ones and newborn twins. Also pumping, it is so time consuming, feels so uncomfortable, and inconvenient. But so important to me for the health and immunity of the babies. Now only if all this time I put in pumping would yield this great weight loss it is supposed to...cause, it's definitely not!! Good old fashioned eat right and exercise. And exercise is something also important in keeping our sanity these days. We have always been fit and active people, and James and I try to take turns every other day allowing the other person to go for a run or I do an aerobics video. It feels so good to get out of the house, breathe in fresh air, have solitude, listen to music, and work up a sweat. It is refreshing, and I feel imperative. It puts us in a better mood so we are kinder to each other - which, let's be honest, we aren't always amidst our stresses.
Having the right mindset is the MOST important thing besides prayer. I guess it kind of is a constant prayer, a constant gratitude and awareness. Remembering how these babies were such high risk with unsettling odds and had as good a chance of not making it as they did surviving - and they did - gives a huge sense of gratitude. Remembering how blessed we are to have children when some cannot, remembering what is truly important in a day, splitting duties and knowing we are each giving our all, and just rememebering even if it is challenging at the time, it will be so worth it later. Remembering "this too shall pass" in those tough moments and cherishing even them because there will be a time we will miss this! Remembering the present is a present. Considering all the people in the world who are truly struggling and suffering. Modern day slaves, sexually trafficked women and girls, severely handicapped people, hungry beggars, the abused and neglected and poor. Thinking, even at 2am when I'd rather be sleeping, how lucky I am to have these babies, to have a warm bed, a heated house, clean water and nourishing formula along with the ability to give them breastmilk when some people cannot produce it. When my house is a mess and I am slicing my foot on a toy and cursing under my breath, that I am still grateful to be a stay at home mom, in a warm house that I love, in my cozy yoga pants and sweatshirts, with a fridge full of food and 4 beautiful children, a crackling fire, and we are all healthy. It is all in your attitude and we have kept ours happy, fun, and positive for the most part. Of course, like anyone, we have our "moments"! You remember where you were, where you could have been, and be grateful for where you are.
Honestly, I think we rock this :)