Survival of the Thickest

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Funny post by Ashley Allen of Big Top Family on having twins

I was having a psychotic break just after being told I was going to be on mandatory Twin Bed Rest for two months. My husband and I were also in the process of building a house 45 minutes away and planning to move with our almost-3-year-old son. So in my last weeks of freedom, I waddled around hurriedly trying to tie up loose ends.  I made lists, did errands, frequently picked up my son and squeezed him till his eyeballs popped out (soon I wouldn’t have that luxury), and took him on long excursions to our favorite parks and play-spots.

My mother-in-law arrived just as my prison sentence started, and she got right to work cleaning my (apparently not clean enough) house; doing all our laundry (actually folding and putting away all of the clean clothes instead of removing them piecemeal from the dryer on an as-needed basis); cooking meals (involving more than two ingredients); taking my son out to play in the glorious spring sunshine (while deflecting my jealous death glares); and a million other minor details like packing up our WHOLE house with the help of my father-in-law and husband. I, meanwhile, enjoyed a sloth-like existence, a total lack of control, and a terrifying body overhaul, including tree trunk legs and cankles, size 38D knockers (up from 36A), and a belly the size of an industrial microwave. (On a positive note, all of this Elephantitis-ness helped to normalize the size of my ass).

One morning, 10 days before we were scheduled to move, I carefully sidestepped the packing boxes to get my wide-load out the door to a doctor’s appointment. Two hours later, my cervix was 5 centimeters wider. I was suddenly in an operating room, a la Grey’s Anatomy, where doctors and nurses were playing the Counting Crows on the radio, effing around with my innards, and talking about their freakin’ weekends as if my whole WORLD wasn’t about to change FOREVER!

“Wooo-wee,” whistled a doctor I didn’t know. “Those are some big babies. About 7 pounds each – I don’t see many twins that big.”

Suddenly feeling like a 14-pound weight was on my chest, I started squeezing the poop out of my husband’s hand, gasping and crying through my oxygen mask, and begging my OB to put those 7-pound babies back in for another 2 weeks! The doctors and nurses were communicating to each other with their eyes since their mouths were wearing surgical masks, and I was just about to tell them I didn’t appreciate their eyes talking SHIT about me, when I suddenly blacked out. It was post-delivery pre-eclampsia and I was put on silly juice (magnesium sulfate) to ward off seizures for the next 24 hours. It was probably for the best. I wasn’t ready for my new reality yet.

My new reality, in a nutshell, involved bringing newborn twins home to a townhouse that was already inhabited by 4 adults, 1 preschooler, 2 dogs (belonging to my inlaws), and 97 moving boxes. It included obvious sleep-deprivation for all of us, since we all took shifts getting up to feed and change two mouths and butts (God bless my workhorse inlaws). It involved eating crappy take-out meals with plastic utensils or sometimes just with our bare hands, cave-man-style, because all of our silverware, pots, and pans were packed away. It also involved recovering from a C-section that hurt like a MoFo, so even though my bedrest prison sentence was over and I wanted to hop around helping everyone, all I could manage was a painful shuffle. My son’s planned third birthday party fell exactly 48 hours from my hospital release, and because two babies were already usurping his throne as Only Child, I wasn’t about to take away the kid’s birthday too! We hosted 12 children and their parents at my sister’s house, me lying pathetically on the couch watching the festivities from afar and trying not to suffocate myself with a pillow, and my mom and mother-in-law posted as sentries around the new babies, making sure that none of the germy kids breathed on them.

Six days later, the movers came, hoisting out our townhome’s furniture, revealing all sorts of dust bunnies and dirt that my mother-in-law quickly swooped in to remove. I looked around our empty first house, struggling with the watery eyes and sniffles from my Change Allergy, but trying to stay positive. I could see the ghosts of all our newlywed memories (laundry fights, hosting our first Thanksgiving, movie nights cuddled on the couch), our first-time parent memories (colic, projectile-vomit, diaper blow-outs, sweet first smiles, an angel sleeping in my arms), and I took a deep, shaky breath. We were headed for the Unknown: a new house, a new town, a new neighborhood, a new family. Just a week before, I’d been a mother of one child, and I was leaving this townhouse a mother of three. There would be a house to unpack, a three-year-old son to acclimate and reassure, two new infants to learn how to care for simultaneously, new pediatrician’s office, grocery store, and pre-school to find. The list of new things to do was boundless, and I wasn’t sure my Multi-Task Dysfunctional self could learn how to navigate all of this change at one time. Yet, if there was one thing I’d learned in my 34 years, it was that I couldn’t fight change. I had faced it all my life, and though I’d emerged with my bumps, scrapes, and bruises, I managed to turn out okay. My new family would too.

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Survival of the Thickest

26 Comments on “Survival of the Thickest”

  1. Amy Denton

    Love it. I’ve been looking forward to your next blog. This is such a sweet story. Babies have a mind of their own it seems. Hard to “plan” around them. Been very hard for me too, but I love how it always seems to turn out fine.

    1. Ashley

      Been thinking of you, and thought about you all throughout writing this for sure. Sending you an email soon – hope you are hanging in there, mama! It will all be “ok,” as Bachelor Juan Pablo says. Thanks for reading!

  2. Danielle

    I love this post! I can actually feel your anxiety, sadness, frustration, pain, trepidation, and joy. You did an excellent job writing this.

    1. Ashley

      Thank you, Danielle. Wow, those adjectives all pretty completely describe that time to a T. You did an excellent job analyzing it. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  3. Uncle Dubs

    A bracing report, my dear! A real triumph. When my mom had us twins, the doc told her, “Your joys will be doubled and your sorrows will be halved.” I think she was just at the point where the joys were burbling up when she had another set, this time girls. Bless the mothers, bless ’em all!!

    1. Ashley

      Wait, what the what? Uncle Dubs, your mom had two sets of twins? Good Lord. That was my fear. Once you have a set of twins naturally, your percentages of conceiving them again are off the charts. That’s why we stopped trying for our girl! You’re damn right – bless your mother! Bless em all! Thanks so much as always for reading and commenting!

  4. Samantha

    I don’t know how you held on to your sanity! Well done on writing- I was biting my nails, pulling my hair stressed out and then you had me getting teary eyed at the sweet rewards. *sniff* Quit playing with my feelings.

    1. Ashley

      Hi, Samantha – I really had no idea how much stress I was really conveying until I read some of the comments. Writing it is so much easier than living it! Looking fwd to catching up on your blog this morning! The twins are sick so it’s a pajama day for us. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  5. Pattie

    I laughed, I cried a little bit at the taking a last look around your home before walking out of it for the last time part. Your in-laws are treasures.

    I know the hardships of moving and it never gets easier, but I can’t imagine the nightmare of moving with two newborns and one toddler. You are amazing.

  6. Rachell S.

    Sometimes we just muddle through these huge changes without realizing all the details the change entails. Maybe that’s how we survive it. Looking back as you did is thought-provoking and empowering.

    1. Ashley

      You’re right, Rachell. I just remember being overwhelmed by it all. This post had a nice little ending because I know what the ending is now. But back then, I was literally a mess. I didn’t even include the part about how I’d promised Mineological an Under the Sea bedroom so on Moving Day with my incision still zinging from the pain, I rushed around putting his room together, applying aquatic wall decals, and running out to the pet store to buy him a fish and aquarium. (Which by the way, it is mind-boggling to take care of a fish and aquarium. “Nemo” died 5 times without M. ever knowing it)! Thank you so much for reading and commenting, as always. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  7. Gary Sidley

    What a great read! You are a super writer. A number of bits of your story resonated (even as a bloke): a mother-in-law who takes over; midwives & doctors watching the TV while you are at your most undignified; and striving to prevent your oldest child from feeling displaced.

    I look forward to more of your scribblings!

    1. Ashley

      Love ya too, U Dubs! Love that you are reading the comments – the only one that puts that much time in here is my husband! I don’t even think my sisters read the comments, glarrrrre. :/

      1. Rachell S.

        What?!? Not read the comments??? They are the dessert after the delicious main course. I absolutely love that you comment back to our comments! Sign of a good blogger who loves her readers!! And wow! to the fact you came through on your promise to your oldest. I could never have an aquarium. I’m too soft hearted! There is a commercial on TV now where a dad rushes to buy a fish before the child wakes up….now I imagine it is you and your husband!! Cheers to you! 🙂

        1. Ashley

          Rachell, Mineological was reading my comments over my shoulder last night on the couch, and he was like “What? Nemo died 5 times? I only had that fish for like 2 days!” So much for knocking myself out for that kid when he only remembers that damned fish living for two days!

  8. Uncle Dubs

    I’m in a hopleess laffing fit over your “glarrrrre” at your sisters. O Jayzus you’re funny – how can ya do this to me on this bright and shining Saint Pat’s? I can’t even make it to th’ pub for a nip as I’m sprawled on me fookin’ floor, breathless with the laughter. Slainte, me Bonnie Spryte!! xoxo

    1. Ashley

      I am always glowing from your high praise, U Dubs. I hope you at least managed a flask of whiskey last night in the midst of your laughing spell. 😉 You do a helluva Irish accent, btw.

  9. Dana

    Found you from the Blog U FB group, Ashley – nice to meet you! I thought I was stressed moving with an almost three year old while 8 months pregnant…but I only had one 8.5 lb bun in the oven. I can see where adding an extra person may add to the drama…

    1. Ashley

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Dana! Can’t wait to check out your blog today – I know I’ve seen your name a bunch! My oldest was 8.5lbs too – that wasn’t pleasant either but a multiple pregnancy is crazy. People are moving in two different directions inside your body…that’s just not normal! 😀

  10. Foxy Wine Pocket

    I seem to combine major life changes (babies and moves and new jobs and all that stuff) as well. But I can’t even imagine doing that with twins. Holy cow, woman, you’re a warrior.

    1. Ashley

      Kelly, we had parents staying with us for 2 months, so that was tons of help. After that point, we did have to soldier on – honestly I wouldn’t go back to those days if you paid me. None of those sweet, tender infant memories for me. 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting!

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