Like many women, I made loose plans for ‘after the baby comes’. I thought about when we’d do bills, and the best time to grocery shop, and the most efficient layout of the nursery, and made a plan for whom would do my work while I was on maternity leave.

Being pregnant with twins made me keenly aware, however, that every plan I made was, by necessity, only a contingency. After all, one baby can alter your life at times, but two or more coming at you at once made it more likely that how you planned for something to happen will end up happening some other way. For example, we planned for them do go to daycare, but ended up with a nanny; we planned for a morning at the courthouse for the adoption, we didn’t plan on Mateo throwing up in front of the bailiff. Classic. Flexibility was (and continues to be) paramount.

Which is why not only did I have a boppy and breastpads, but I also had a breast pump and a few different types of bottles on hand. I wanted to breastfeed, but I also knew that with two at once, it might not be a practical. My thought was: if it worked out for the three of us, great; if not, then no big deal, we’ll sterilize the bottles.

Within ten or so days of being home from the hospital, however, Mateo was constantly hungry and Harper wasn’t getting enough to eat and thus becoming dehydrated. And I, after carrying fourteen pounds of babies to thirty-seven weeks, major surgery, and a little hemorrhaging, I was beyond exhausted.

It wasn’t for lack of help. No. After all, it was a team effort among me, Jennifer, my mom, and starting at Day 9, a night nanny (speaking of unplanned contingencies). But as any new mom knows, it is so very hard to sleep soundly what with the weighty responsibility of a safeguarding a miracle from right out of the lap of God. No pressure or anything.

But not a problem, right? I mean just pump and go to bottles and let someone else help with the feeding. Right? RIGHT?

And here’s where I experienced my logical, flexible decision-making colliding head-on with every single fiber of precipitous maternalism. Because OH MY GOD it was quite possibly the most difficult, most emotionally-charged juncture I’ve found myself in during the thirty-four years I had been on the earth. There I was seeking permission from the one person who was vilifying me: me.

Breast is best. That gets pounded into your head from all angles. There are entire factions of humanity specializing in getting your boobage just right for the baby to get the only food that’s going to help them become productive, healthy citizens. Thinking about formula? How selfish. Plan to pump? That’s less demonic but still disappointing. Does it hurt? Do you have an infection? Here’s a head of cabbage, a warm compress and a dose of just-get-over-yourself-and-suck-it-up-for-at-least-six months. What, you are going back to work? How unmotherly.

So, you know, there’s that.

Until today, I don’t even think I’ve touched on this subject here, but it’s often on my mind, sitting back there like a slow-healing wound, one with lots of scar tissue, but that’s also a bit numb around the incision. It was such a traumatic time for me. Just ask Jennifer. Or my mom. Or my sister. Or my sister-in-law. Or our friend, Tanya. Or Alan, a dear friend who’s logic and level-headedness I admire, a man I love dearly, a most compassionate, intelligent, and level-headed child of God. He came over, listened, and just held my hand.

In those days before we transitioned to pumping, and then to formula, I often wept. Uncontrollably. I would be breastfeeding one or both of the babies, holding them close against me, awestruck that these human beings grew inside of me, and I would cry. I would cry because I felt like that in discontinuing breastfeeding, I was failing them, neglecting them. I believe that I actually even said, aloud, that I felt like I was engaging in nutritional murder. It was that difficult, that painful, that dark. I was living proof that the guilt-card of all the breastfeeding propaganda was effective. And that in itself was disappointing – because I consider myself to be an independent thinker, immune to peer pressure.

BUT WAIT! THIS POST ISN’T EVEN ABOUT BREASTFEEDING!

I offer up that intimate and painful experience as a point of comparison to another unexpectedly gut-wrenching parental experience: separating the twins’ sleeping quarters.

I’ve mentioned on my blog that we were headed in that direction, had conversations with other parents, made plans with Jennifer. Mateo sleeps longer in the afternoons, Harper sleeps longer in the mornings. Sleeping in the same room leads to one waking the other. Which means at least once a day, often twice, at least one child isn’t getting the rest they need. And an overtired kid equals the-day-will-suck. Two overtired kids equals the-day-will-suck-and-it’ll-take-forever-to-end. Logical solution? Separate them.

Over the course of a week, we cleaned out the guest bedroom, rented a storage facility, moved guest room furniture to storage, moved tiny things up, got the room safe, and reorganized the closet space. And then on Monday, May 18, Jennifer moved Harper’s crib…
into
her
new
room.
Cue the waterworks. It didn’t help that I had been home sick last Thursday and Friday, translating to four consecutive days with the kids. The only times I’ve had four consecutive days with them was during maternity leave, over Thanksgiving holiday (and Mateo was very ill), and Christmas holiday. And when I get it, I marinate in it. But when I have to go back to work, it shocks me how difficult the transition is for me.

It also didn’t help that Mr. and Miss Crank had runny noses and maybe felt a bit under the weather. Or that we had been very busy over the weekend and they were still recovering. Or that they were beyond exhausted on Monday evening by the time I got home so that what I walked into was thirty minutes of tears and babies that wanted me to hold them both but didn’t want to be held either. It is days like this that I feel like I fail my children for not being there with them during the day.

That evening, Jennifer affording me the opportunity to put them both to bed, she holding one while I put the other down. Mateo went down relatively easy. Harper screamed at the top of her lungs when I closed the door of her new room behind me. Was it the shadows? Did she miss her brother? Did she think I abandoned her? Was she just friggin exhausted?

I went in five minutes later – yeah, me, the one who had no issue with the cry-it-out method – and picked her up to hold her during the next five minutes it took her to fall asleep through post-weeping stutter-breathing, poor baby. Then I went back upstairs and cried as I watched them on the monitors, Harper sleeping soundly, Mateo, on his belly, quietly peeking over the crib bumper looking over at the empty space that used to be his sister’s crib. Did he think she left him? Was a part of him gone?

And even after they both fell asleep, I cried. Off and on until I fell asleep myself. Jennifer did her best to comfort me while avoiding the eggshells I was tossing in my path, the red carpet of my emotional what-the-eff-was-that. On a scale of one to ten, ten being the most emotional, the breastfeeding thing was an eleven. The separating of the twins was somewhere around an unanticipated eight.

Why the big deal? Hell if I know. Could be a combination of all those things I mentioned above about the day and the weekend and all that. But I think it’s more the representation of the twins sleeping apart that prompted such a visceral and unexpected emotional response. I mean think about it, they slept in the same space for SIX HUNDRED FORTY TWO DAYS and suddenly there’s the very tangible, very visible change.

Two hundred forty six days in the same womb.

Three hundred ninety six days in the same room.

Yes, I counted. Yes, it really is that dramatic.

I never expected it to be such a thing, this having to now walk through separate doors to get to each child. After all, I’m not one of those twin moms who coordinates or matches the kids’ clothes. I’m all about independence and individuality. Plus? Hello? It’s not like I didn’t know about this…FOR A WEEK! Not like I didn’t INITIATE THE MOVE!

With each passing experience, planning gets more efficient, remaining flexible becomes more second-nature, but damn this unexpected emotional stuff really throws me for a loop.

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