Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Taught by Twins

on June 12, 2013

taught by twins

Close to five years ago, God chose to bless our family in a totally unexpected way.  It was a blessing I never would have chosen for myself, one I was completely unprepared for and one that brought with it a great deal of anxiety.  It’s a blessing that often continues to challenge me today.

The blessing we received was the gift of two children at one time – twins!  From the moment we received that awe-inspiring news, I began to worry.  The truth is that I like to be in control; I like to plan things in advance.  I like life to be organized and tidy, not uncertain or chaotic.  Two babies at once was not part of my plan!  In my turmoil, I didn’t know whether to yell, “Praise the Lord!” or break down in tears.

Thus, I spent the early portion of my twin pregnancy struggling with fear, worry, and what if’s that I never even considered with my first two pregnancies.  What if we lost one or both of them?  What if they were born prematurely?  What if they had medical issues?  What if I had to have a C-section? What if I just couldn’t handle twins?  What if our middle child (then our youngest) couldn’t handle being displaced by two siblings at once?  What if I couldn’t figure out how to nurse two at a time?  What if we didn’t have enough money?  The doubts strung out in a long line.

twins medical

On top of the what ifs, I was riding the roller coaster of amplified pregnancy hormones as a result of carrying two babies at one time.  One moment I felt euphoric excitement and extreme gratitude for this unexpected blessing and the next – sheer terror.  Even my fear became complicated by the addition of guilt, guilt for sometimes thinking, “it would be easier if it was just one baby,” or “this wasn’t in our plan.” As soon as the errant thoughts entered my consciousness, I felt a shame like no other.  So many women would give anything to carry just one baby, and here I was complaining to myself that I was being blessed with two!

I knew I was sinning.  I knew I needed to trust God more.  I knew that He was in control!  I knew His grace was sufficient for me.  If He chose to give us twins, then He knew we could handle it with His strength. I prayed constantly over these truths, but I was having so much trouble believing them. I put up a good outer front – it was easy to share my excitement with others and leave out the more shameful feelings.

One day when I confessed my worry that I would be inadequate, a wise woman at my church kindly told me that God knew I could handle two at once, or He would not have entrusted these babies to me.  A light bulb burst into light, and I suddenly saw my unexpected twin pregnancy anew, as an honor, a privilege.  Instead of reveling in my blessing, I was wallowing in worry.  I was wasting this unique experience.

twins and me

Little by little, the Lord began providing for our physical needs, as if to provide physical evidence for my skeptical spirit.  He knew we needed a larger vehicle, so He provided a minivan for our family at very little cost to us.  He knew we’d need double the clothing, so He sent neighbors and friends with bags of gently used clothing and other baby necessities.

Our church family collected gifts for us also, including a mountain of diapers that tumbled over onto the floor of the bedroom closet. We received countless gift cards, often from unexpected sources!  I was completely overwhelmed by a God who takes seemingly impossible situations and works out the details without any help on our part, and I praised Him for meeting our needs and encouraging us on this new journey.

My pregnancy progressed as uneventfully as a twin pregnancy can and as I neared the end, I thought we might actually make it to full term.  The specialist I was seeing joked about how great my uterus was and how well my body was built for carrying babies.  I beamed, pleased my body was cooperating so nicely. All was well.

And then the swelling began: first my legs, then my hands, and finally my face.  I knew it was pre-eclampsia because I’d experienced it twice before but never this quickly.  I called the specialist to report my symptoms, already knowing the answer I would receive.  Come to the office immediately.

Not long after arriving at the office, I was ushered over to the hospital and told that a C-section was imminent.  C-section: that dreaded word that made me want to run in the opposite direction.  Furthermore, my pregnancy had only just reached 34 weeks, so I required steroid  injections to help mature the babies’ lungs before operating.

As excited as I was to meet our two bundles of joy, fear of the unknown crept back in, slowly and silently.  I feared the C-section recovery.  I feared the health issues facing my premature infants.  Fear slipped in little by little until suddenly, it was upon me and I could scarcely breathe.  I momentarily forgot that God was in control.  I forgot that He had demonstrated His provision over and over again for the past seven months in some very big ways.  I forgot that He promises to be faithful, and I had a pity party for myself right there in my hospital bed.  I cried.  I worried. I wallowed in fear, took a bath in its darkness. I wondered why.  Why, God?

Our twins arrived the next morning via C-section at right around five pounds each and were quickly whisked away to the NICU. It was the beginning of a very long week.  We existed in a sort of haze, but we survived.  I put off dealing with my fears and thought surely things would get better once we settled in at home. Surely I wouldn’t worry so much having them right next to me instead of in another section of the hospital.

twins in carseats

However, when we finally did make it home, I realized very quickly that it was just the beginning of a long haul.  Both babies came home on apnea monitors, which made just about everything more difficult: feeding, sleeping, travelling, and so forth.  Additionally, we had already spent an entire week apart from our two older boys, including missing our oldest’s birthday party, so they were understandably needy, as well.

The nights were even more difficult as we woke ourselves every three hours to feed babies that needed assistance, and then I still had to pump.  It was exhausting, and I continued to worry about them.  Did they drink enough? Would they gain weight?  Would I ever be able to nurse them?  What should I do when they both cry at once?  How can I get them on a schedule when one seems to need more sleep than the other?  So much uncertainty.

At first, I read a lot of literature on parenting twins, scheduling, and so forth.  I worked at getting them on the same schedule and tried not to feel guilty about the lack of time with our older children.  I decided to focus less on doing everything right and focus more on just surviving the day to day grind.  I spent time in the Word.  I prayed ever more fervently for strength and wisdom.  He told me to let go.  Quit worrying.  Trust Him that even if I somehow did something wrong, my children would still be okay.

It took a few months to come to grips with the fact that my prior parenting experience held little value in this new four-child-family world.  I had to adapt my lofty ideals to techniques that would actually work for our family.  I even resigned myself to the fact that I might not ever be able to nurse the way I wanted to (although we did eventually figure out how to tandem nurse).

I gave up on having things “just so” and became content with “good enough.” 

twins gracie arms out

I gave in to my infant son’s desire to be held…a lot..and my daughter’s desire not to be swaddled.  I learned they were different from one another.  I learned to find quiet moments with my older children and to understand that jealousy was just a part of life for siblings, whether they have one sibling or many.

twins thriving

One day as I sat on the floor with my incredible infants, it dawned on me that we were no longer just surviving; we were actually THRIVING!  All four of our children were happy and despite continuing medical issues, the twins were growing and learning.  I even felt more connected to my husband as our busy household required more teamwork than ever before.  In fact, despite little sleep and little “me time,” I was superbly content.

Watching my two infants smile at one another, holding them both in my arms at once, feeding them together – all of these things brought me a greater joy than I ever could have imagined.  If you have ever seen two babies giggle and smile at one another or sleep peacefully side by side, then you know the joy I’m referring to.  It is overwhelming in its beauty.

twins sleep2

I admit: life wasn’t always pretty.  We still had difficult days, but the smooth days eclipsed the rough ones. I thanked the God who gave me a blessing I didn’t deserve, the blessing I didn’t ask for, the blessing I would never have chosen for myself.

When God gave us twins, He taught me a few very valuable lessons that I try to carry with me still.  He taught me that Philippians 4:13 really IS true.  “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” isn’t just a nice saying, but He really can give me physical strength for the day!

I can do all things

He also taught me that I needed to relax as a parent.

So what if our school age son still doesn’t know how to tie his shoes because we had twins the year before he started kindergarten?  So what if I don’t feed my children a food-pyramid-perfect meal three times a day, every day?  So what if my oldest occasionally runs out of clean clothing?  So what if the tv is on more than I’d like?

There are so many more important things in life than the details of the day to day grind of being mother to a larger than average family.  Things like relationships. Love. Attentiveness. Contentment.

twins tall

The Lord showed me that if I want that abundant life my heart so desires, I need to do the opposite of what makes sense to me.  I need to quit trying harder, quit controlling more, and just relax.  Relax in His grace.  Relax in His presence.  I don’t have to control it all because He is in control.  If I remain close to Him, the details will work themselves out, often in a more stunning way than I ever thought possible.

Jeremiah 29:11 became very real to me.

Image

I’m profusely thankful that His plans for our hope and future included twins.  Like the Israelites in the desert, I would have settled for a return to Egypt rather than experience the glory of the Promised Land.  But He had a bigger blessings in mind for us.

Can you recall a time when God’s plans failed to match up with your plans? What were the results?

Jen 🙂


22 responses to “Taught by Twins

  1. Marissa says:

    You certainly are blessed, and it is amazing how wonderful it is when God using other women in our lives to clearly state the truth we need to hear. My oldest was early and the challenges that could have happened kept me up nights in those first weeks, but through God’s grace he is a perfectly healthy and happy almost kindergarten boy. Each moment is a chance to lean more on God and know that he has it all in control.

  2. Mary @ Woman to Woman says:

    Oh Jen, this was a beautiful post of God’s rich provision… emotionally, spiritually, and physically. He’s used these precious children (all four!) to draw you to a place with Him that only He could do! Thanks for sharing your story and the wonderful pictures!
    Blessing to you, friend ~ Mary

    • Thanks, Mary. You are such a great encourager! 🙂 Yes, I think my parenting has brought to a place of need that nothing else in life quite has (other than, perhaps, marriage? haha).
      Jen 🙂

  3. donnaltw says:

    I read your comment on my blog and decided to come over and visit. I’m so glad that I did. You have a beautiful family, friend. And how wonderful the lessons that God teaches us in our struggles. He met you with His faithfulness at every turn. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

  4. […] a job.  During that time of zero income, I forgot those missionary kid lessons.  I forgot that when we have needs, we turn to our Heavenly Father for […]

  5. […] here, but when we found out we were pregnant with twins over four years ago, I learned a LOT about trusting God to provide for needs in this area.  He provided a second crib, clothing, a second exersaucer (which wasn’t […]

  6. Thank you so much for sharing and linking up with the Babies & Beyond link up! I love and appreciate your honesty in this post! And as a fellow twin mom, I can relate to so much of what you said!

    I’m featuring this post tomorrow at the link up! I hope you’ll stop by and link up again and be sure you grab a ‘featured’ button!

    Blessings!

    http://www.myjoyfilledlife.com/search/label/Babies%20%26%20Beyond%20Link-Up

    • Thank you, Sarah! It’s always fun to meet another twin mama, and I greatly appreciate the feature. 🙂 I’ll definitely stop by tomorrow. Thanks for the reminder.
      Jen 🙂

  7. Bibi says:

    Thank you so much for opening your heart and sharing your experience with us. I’m a twin, but my mother never really talked much about what it was like when we were babies. While every mothers experience is different, I really appreciate having had the opportunity to read yours 🙂 God worked greatly in your live! Your twins are very beautiful!

  8. Trooppetrie says:

    The Lord has really worked on me in this area. I have two children who are struggling with some things this year. I have 4 other children who need my attention. We have no less than 6-8 appointments a week on top of homeschooling and being a wife. I am pregnant with number 7 and so thrilled but over whelmed at the same time. One day as I cried out I got the reminder that he must think I am can handle all that he is putting on me because I survive every day, my blood pressure is stable and while my water broke at 26 weeks last time I am not 32 weeks and doing great. Day by day and only by his grace and being willing to not have everything perfect

  9. […] to more of an extreme level than others! Our firstborn was easy, our second was challenging, and our third and fourth (twins) offered another perspective […]

  10. Oh, love!!! I have boy – girl twins, too! AND they are almost 5! 🙂

  11. […] Tips:  Do not get rid of clothing (even if your youngest child is a different gender from older siblings) until you are certain you will not be having more children!  Also, buy quality clothing whenever possible (find out how to save on new clothing in part 2 of this post) because the clothes will last longer. Finally, If you have no hand-me-downs to begin with, be willing to accept them from others in your circle – family, church family, friends, neighbors, etc.  I can’t tell you how many times even our neighbors became the answer to prayers for our clothing needs, especially when we found out we were having twins! […]

  12. Antoinette van der Merwe says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have a 6 year old daughter and 4 year old son and I have this strange gut feeling that I am pregnant with twins. This time around I have different symptoms than with the first two. When I looked it up on the internet it showed that these are typical symptoms of a twin pregnancy. Since then I have experienced all these emotions and fears that you wrote about. Before I concieved I asked God for twins, but later I “withdrew” the request, thinking how could I ever ask for that. How would I cope? What about my other 2 kids and money, and next year is her first year of school!!!! I have my first scan tomorrow and then I will finally know. But through your story, I know God will be right there with me no matter the outcome.

    • Antoinette,
      I’m so glad you stopped by here! I would love to hear how your scan went (twins or singleton, all babies are such gifts). 🙂 I felt so guilty at first for not feeling ecstatic about having two at once, but the Lord showed me that such fears and feelings are natural – I just needed to trust Him. Once I learned to see twins as a blessing, it changed my whole outlook from “how will I ever survive?” to “with the Lord by our side, we can do this!” I like that you ended with – no matter the outcome. Yes, He is with us always, no matter what we face in life.
      Jen 🙂

  13. […] Praise the Lord, He has always provided the vehicles we needed, sometimes even at no cost to us, including the necessary switch to a minivan before the birth of our twins!  Then, we are often able to pass on the blessing by giving our old vehicle to someone else in […]

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