All That Need: My First Six Years With Twins

Cirque du Today18 Comments


Six years ago, I scooted my big army-tank ass out the door for an OB appointment. One hour later, I was sent to the hospital to have my SEVEN POUND twins! I was so anxious because our townhouse was in boxes; we were about 7 days away from moving to a new house, new neighborhood, new town with our almost 3-year-old Sam. When they put the oxygen mask on me to go into the O.R. and deliver my twins, the river of tears I was crying flowed right down into it. How overwhelmed I was, all those years ago.

My boys came out healthy, huge, and thank God – they slept a lot (at first). With my C-section wound still zinging, we hosted Sam’s Finding Nemo birthday party at my sister’s house the day after the twins and I were released from the hospital. My son’s life was about to change forever with the addition of two more mouths to feed, two more cries to answer, and two more bodies standing between him and every scrap of attention he could fight for: I wasn’t about to take away his birthday party too.

We moved four days after that hurtle. We had lots of help the first two months, from my inlaws, my mom, and my sister Bridgitte – when the last of our help left, I felt like getting down on my hands and knees and clutching onto their pants legs to get them to stay. Nothing could prepare us for the huge responsibility of caring for two newborns at the same time, all alone.

My husband, always hands-on and ever the work-horse, shared all the nighttime shifts with me, since the twins were bottle-fed. The babies, as we called them then, liked to be held, and they cried when they were not held. This meant that we “wore” them, as much as we could, in Baby Bjorns. I spent (threw away) money on dual baby carriers that were supposed to work with one baby in the front, one in the back; or I tried to put them in slings on both of my sides. That arrangement never lasted longer than 10-15 minutes before my back began to feel much like that of an arthritic 85-year-old woman’s.

Todd and I got used to eating our dinners while each wearing a baby in a Baby Bjorn – we would put a dishcloth over top of the twins’ heads so we didn’t drip spaghetti sauce or salad dressing on them as we wolfed down our meal.


Some days, especially when they were a bit older and crying, crying, crying to be held at the same time, when my arms just weren’t strong enough anymore, I would lie down on the floor and cry with them, letting them crawl over me, because I was not willing to choose ONE to hold and comfort over the other. On those days, I dreamed of running away. I looked longingly down the street, stopping halfway up our stairs to peer out the bay window, and I imagined myself opening it, jumping down gingerly like a cat, and scampering away. (Although I probably would’ve broken every bone in my body and gone no where but the hospital, being in traction at that time sounded like a nice, breezy vacation). I wouldn’t have done any of that – couldn’t have – but I did fantasize about escaping ALL THAT NEED.


When they turned two, the twins needed me less and they needed dangerous freedom more. They ran in two separate directions, never one little duckling following the other (the way I heard other twins did). Fiercely independent and proudly different – they were determined to challenge themselves to find equally “exciting” but opposite paths. I quickly lost the baby weight that year.


Things got easier at three and four. They started to be interested in staying in one spot for longer than 30 seconds. Toys held their attention. TV shows did too (thank you, Wonder Pets. Not only did you save all those animals in trouble – you saved my SANITY. And all you wanted for babysitting payment was celery). I still had to watch them like a hawk, though – don’t get me wrong – and I had to POTTY TRAIN them! Good God. I still have nightmares about finding the trail of turds, Hansel and Gretel style, that would follow them and their Thomas the Train underpants, enabling me to find them wherever they went.



Now all of that’s behind us. At the age of six, the twins can be SEMI-trusted to wipe their own butts, wash their own hands, and play on their own, and it helps me tremendously that they like each other’s company. They go off and play Legos, or Pokemon cards, or Wii, or The Blue Bear Game (which involves throwing Blue Bear back and forth across their bedroom. I’m hoping he’ll suffer a concussion some day. He deserves it, that bastard).

Drew is my sweet, athletic, loving, rule-following, good boy, who idolizes his older brother Sam and his Daddy.


Zach is my distracted, quirky, funny one, whose zany one-liners keep my Facebook page hopping with quotes from “Zach’s World” and who puts me to shame with his dance moves.


They both still need me, of COURSE they do, but they need others too – other family members, friends, teachers, adults. My role will always be that of their mother, and they will always need me – just in new ways, ways I don’t even know about yet. But they will never again need me with the physical, visceral, instinctual dependency they had when they were babies. I didn’t think I would ever say this, but I’m going to miss all that need.

Wishing a Happy Birthday to my big, big boys.

For more posts about life with twins, read the trilogy starting with I’m A Multi-Tasker Disaster!


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All That Need: My First Six Years With Twins

18 Comments on “All That Need: My First Six Years With Twins”

  1. Mary Hoar

    Great job, Ashley! Believe me, they”ll still need you for quite some time. Enjoy the “small “moments. They will be over when you’re least prepared.
    love, Mary

  2. Pattie

    Happy Birthday Drew and Zach. Ash, this is a wonderful tribute to your twins. I wiped a tear. I loved reading this as much as I have loved all of your posts on Big Top Family. I bet your Blog Fodder Folder is filling up with notes & ideas these days.

  3. Maureen Stiles

    You perfectly summed up the flight or fight of having a newborn. Let alone two and a toddler. With three boys myself, I laugh along with your posts because I know it all too well. I want to stick around and see the blog when you have to teach them both to drive at the same time. If I survive my next two drivers, I will send all my boy driving karma your way.

  4. Marsha

    I too remember those
    days very well! Somethings I miss and others I don’t…..never got the hang of the Bjorne but this
    Is a special age and they are precious! You and Todd have done a great job but sometimes it takes a
    Village! Happy, happy birthday!

  5. Drew Clarke

    Happy Birthday Drew & Zach!!! I don’t know how parents do it. Just saying the word twins makes me tired. Be thankful your Drew isn’t (not yet, at least) like my mother’s Drew. You’d be in a world of pain if that were the case. I viewed rules as unhelpful guidelines. We do share athleticism in common. You will never stop being Mom and they will never stop being your babies even when they are fifty and you are seventy-seven.

    How was California? Did you get my email that had my book cover attached? I hope all is well. Talk to you soon.

  6. Jo-Anne

    Oh how I wish I had twins, my sister has twins and I was always a little envious of her, not sure how I would have coped with twins but it would have been fun to find out…………you are doing a bloody great job with yours just so you know

  7. Ira

    Congrats on doing a great job raising them. I remember one crying baby at a time, pulling on the last nerve.
    I did notice the statement about the blue bear game; perhaps that’s why he keeps running away.

    1. Ashley

      Thank you for reading, Ira! Yes maybe Blue Bear is taking out some of his resentment about being thrown around like a rag doll. 😉 I’m sorry to hear about your hospital stay – I hope you get out tomorrow and stay out! xoxox

  8. qwertygirl

    More similarity! Not only were my twin boys in the 6-7lb range, but I too went to the OB and was sent the hospital to have them that same day (in my case, because of the signs of pre eclampsia). And my boys NEVER did the ducklings in a line thing–I spent the years between when they learned to walk and when they learned to follow instructions (which I’m expecting to happen any day now!) running in three directions at once chasing them plus their older brother. Happy (belated) birthday to your boys!

    1. Ashley

      Wow, the similarities are cah-razy!!! I had post-delivery pre-eclampsia (which I’d never even heard of happening after birth)! How old are your ducklings now?

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