I can write this only now that I have officially survived having “two under two.” Never mind my freshly minted two-year-old who hands me sass and facial expressions fit for a teenager on the regular ever since the day of her birthday. The months following her baby brother’s birth and leading up to her second birthday have been a blur. They have been brutal, and they have been the stuff memories are made of (notice I didn’t classify them as good or bad memories).
Being heavily pregnant and having a one-year-old was tough. I knew I had my work cut out for me. The looks people gave me prompted me to start going on the offensive and announcing to perfect strangers that this was a surprise baby and that “no one in her right mind would purposefully have babies 16 months apart.” I repeated this line often in the last year. Friends who had suffered the same fate were brutally honest with me and warned me that the first year was awful, but once the babies got a bit older it was truly wonderful. Armed with these experiences, I braced myself. Even my seasoned nanny, who had recently cared for twins, looked worried. Surprise baby came a month early, so “the babies” are actually only 15 months apart. Bring it on, I thought.
And it was brutal.
Baby Girl (who has never given up “baby” status, BTW) wasn’t even walking when Baby T was born. She stubbornly held out to 17 months before she started walking, so getting both babies in the car required two trips or two sets of hands to load them up. Pampers’ stock value shot up as the number of diapers we changed seemed unreal. Everyone was drinking a bottle, it seemed. Packing up the diaper bag just to go to my in-laws required making a list and checking it twice.
It was brutal.
Over the next few months, the overwhelming feeling subsided and we started getting the hang of things. My head was not above water by any means, but I knew I was no longer drowning. Just keep swimming, in the words of Dory. I started wearing tennis shoes in the house all the time on the weekends because I was literally on my feet all day and just bouncing around from one baby to the next. My husband and I both wear Fit Bits and started comparing step totals at the end of each day after the babies were asleep and we’d flopped on the couch. This would be a short lived rest because Baby T, being a boy and a preemie, was a horrible sleeper with a voracious appetite. He woke up every three hours on the dot to eat, around the clock, until he was seven months old.
It was brutal.
And then one fine day I felt like Wonder Woman. I was doing it. I was really doing it! We had a routine. Baby Girl was finally warming up to her baby brother, and they started making each other laugh. I was never more relieved the first time I saw this interaction between the two of them. It was light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe all of those people were right: eventually they would love each other fiercely, entertain each other, be permanent playmates, and likely gang up on me at some point. My heart sang. I started realizing these days were numbered. I cried because I wanted them all back—the good, the bad, and the ugly. I realized I still was operating from the place of my initial shock with that positive pregnancy test while holding a seven-month-old. Realized I needed to quickly shift to living and breathing every single second with these two babies.
So I did just that.
And before I knew it, Baby Girl turned two and my hashtags of #twoundertwo had to change along with my outlook. I’ve come to realize that while the babies will be in different stages for the short term, each will happen fast, and if I blink, I’m going to miss it. Not only do I have to keep swimming, I have to stop and smell the roses. It’s tricky to do both, but I’m getting the hang of it.