Newborn Twins? Sure, I Can Handle That!

When I read about the brouhaha surrounding the plans for the new (and pregnant) CEO of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer, to work right through her maternity leave, my first reaction wasn’t “Wow, way to go! Chalk up one for all working moms!” Nor did I think, “Crap. She just set the women’s movement back 20 years.” Nope. I simply thought, “It’s got to be her first kid.”

Sure enough, I was right. It is the 37-year-old executive’s first child.

So how did I guess it? Because I also said something similar when I was pregnant for the first time. One big difference though—I was expecting twins.

During those blissfully ignorant first few weeks of my pregnancy, I honestly believed as though little in my life would change after I gave birth. Yes, I actually thought that twins would be easy to care for. After all, I was capable. I was super organized. Plus, don’t all babies sleep a lot? Something like 18 hours a day. That leaves plenty of time, right? I was truly puzzled when other moms finding out that I was having twins would ask, “Will you have help?”

A pregnant woman's bare bellyCall it my “prenatal fantasy.” After one miscarriage and more than a year of trying, I was ecstatic just to be pregnant. I pictured cooing babies. I thought of that delicious new-baby smell. I planned their nursery with enthusiasm. Three-hour crying jags, colic, projectile poop, spit-up, sore nipples—none of that ever entered my mind. No one warned me. It was 1995. The Internet was new, and blogging? What’s that?

Little did I know that with twins, their 18 hours of sleep would come in fits and starts. And at different times from each other. Usually during the day, rarely at night when instead I’d walk into their nursery to find them staring up at me with those big baby eyes and willing me to play with them until dawn.

I think I started to wake up from my fantasy somewhere in my fourth month of pregnancy, about the time I finally found a few books on the subject of birthing and raising twins. (“The exhaustion and constant care of the multiples mean that sex is often pushed aside for longer than it is after singleton birth.” —Having Twins) Or, maybe I got clued in around month six when I’d literally hobble into the grocery store and someone would smile and say for umpteenth time, “Any day now?”

“No! It’s not any day. Far from it lady! I have twelve flippin’ weeks to go!”

I was clearly getting crabby. These babies were big, taking over my body and I officially couldn’t sleep any longer. Nothing made me comfortable. Nothing. I couldn’t breathe but, boy, could I eat gaining 65 pounds for my effort. I developed a pregnancy rash all over my hippo-sized baby bumped that itched like crazy.

Get these babies out of me!

And just like that—poof!—I woke from my fantasy and saw my future. I got on the phone and dialed my mother-in-law (sadly, my mother had passed), my best friends, my coworkers and asked for help.

And help they gave me. They arrived the day my husband had to return to work. They came with food. They did my laundry. They cleaned my house. They rocked my babies so that I could shower or finally sleep. I couldn’t have done it without them. Not only did I take my allotted eight weeks of maternity leave but I managed to negotiate an additional four more! And I needed every last one of them. Every. Last. One.

So I smile when I think about Marissa Mayer’s sweet, innocent statement, “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.” Let her have her prenatal fantasy. She’ll learn. We all do.


6 thoughts on “Newborn Twins? Sure, I Can Handle That!

  1. Avila

    I think it’s totally possible that she will truly “work through it” and have ample nannies to raise her children. I think this is a very possible, practical and for her, a very desirable decision. You cannot commit to accepting a role like being the CEO without realizing she will have to give up some of those moments with her child (or future children). I have many women-friends who love their children to death but really wanted to race back to work.

    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

      Sure, as a CEO she’ll have bucko bucks to pay for all kinds of help. I was just riffing on her casual attitude about working right after the birth. Most of us couldn’t even remember our names that first month!

  2. Inspirational Mama

    Great post! I totally relate!! I had to be on bed rest for 3 months then took an additional 3 months off after my twins were born. I remembering wondering when my twins were first born why no one told me they were going to cry. Sounds crazy know to say that but it was so true! My twins just turned two I’m pregnant with my third and I’m pretty sure I will ever get a good night sleep again. :-)

    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

      Funny, isn’t it? I also remember telling a friend that we would take our twins to Italy shortly after they were born. She just laughed at me like I was crazy. It hurt my feelings! P.S. We didn’t do it!

  3. BusyMomofTwins

    You have captured this perfectly. We all naively think during our first pregnancy that us Type A, organized women can actually hand it all. It is so hard, so very hard. I hope that Marissa Mayer gets lots of help, but what I really hope is that she doesn’t regret not giving her precious new baby all the focus it deserves.

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