All photos from Debbie Bonti
1. How did you find out you were having twins?
When I found out I was pregnant, it was shock enough. Took a test and there it was in black and white. My husband at the time and myself had been trying for almost 10 years before having my first son Shawn, who is now 9 and going into 4th grade. See, during that 10 year time frame, I had a variety of lost pregnancies and babies from miscarriages to a full-term still birth, so we considered Shawn our ''miracle baby" of sorts. We never thought we would have anymore and we were content with that.
Once the positive test came, I made that appointment. The finding out part wasn't right away. I was 8 weeks along when I went into the appointment. I was having the normal check up and was being asked....are you positive about your last period...I kind of laughed. I remember saying...at my age, let's hope I can remember when my last period was. Still, I didn't understand where he was going with this. His answer...something just doesn't seem right. Normal people would ask...what does that mean...as for me...I anticipated the worst being all I had been thru over the years. He set up an appointment for an ultrasound for the following day and sent me for some blood work. I was so positive that something was ''wrong'' I went into work, talked to my boss about what was happening and the possibility for maybe needing a few days off that week because the assumption was that I would be having a D&C because something was not right. Called my mother and sister and filled them in and waited.....
2. What was your original reaction to finding out you're having twins?
Ultrasound time....As the previous paragraph, you could only imagine the shock. Laying down there, getting all prepared, holding onto my emotions...
and all of a sudden...my reaction....oh sh*t. There are two.
The ultrasound woman....Oh sh*t is right as she was laughing. I told her, I didn't see that coming.....The famous line that I will never forget when I asked her...How can there be two..there are no twins on either side of our families...her answer...Honey...it is because of your age.
3. How old were your other children at the time you found out about twins coming?
When we found out we were having twins, my son Shawn had just turned 2. My then husband had a daughter (my step daughter) was around15/16.
4. What were you most nervous, scared, worried, etc. about with having twins? What thoughts ran through your mind initially?
My mind was mush most of the time at the beginning, well, that was when I wasn't in panic mode. There was a lot of we need to find a larger place to live, a bigger car, how are we going to afford this, what if I get pulled out of work too early. At first the financial part made me a complete wreck. Then the emotional panic set in. After you have to deliver a child knowing that they have already passed, and here you are now having to worry about anything and everything that could happen to these babies.
Every moment of excitement turns into the what if. The nervous, scared, worried, fits it all exactly.
5. What helped you to prepare for twins? How specifically did you prepare for twins?
Preparation...I basically went with the expect the worst and hope for the best scenario. I was going to wing it and hope that it goes my way.
When I first moved to Maine I worked as a store manager for Motherhood Maternity for 3 years and then part-time after Shawn was born. I loved helping pregnant women. I had learned a lot from other people's experiences and tried to relate to what they were going thru. It was almost like I was a pro without even having them yet. Yikes was I wrong. Either way, I think it gave me confidence along with indirectly having a support group of woman who I could relate to and they could relate to me on a daily basis.
6. Any good books, Web sites, etc. for those having twins?
You would not find someone more anti-books than me when it came to finding a resource. Books made me nervous and crazy all at the same time. I would read a page in a book and analyze what was going on with me and how come it wasn't following my text book version.
I was in love with my nurses, both from my obgyn office and the hospital that I visited regularly for non stress tests, that they were my sounding board. They were the ones that I trusted for the answers, even if they were giving me the answers that I didn't want to hear. My mother was in RI, so they took the place and believe me, even in my 30s,I still needed a mother figure by my side when my actual mother wasn't available to make the ride up north to Maine.
7. What were some lifesavers to you, things that helped you when the babies were born - baby must haves?
Emotional lifesavers were when your girlfriends would answer the phone at 3am because even if the babies were sleeping you still had their full attention just to cry your eyes out because you were peed on because you were too tired to grab the washcloth to cover your little mans penis, or that you realized that your husband mixed up the twins and put them in the wrong crib.
Other lifesavers..premade meals brought over by friends and family members. Now these people understood. We never went hungry.
Organization...yes, it is possible to be organized without being organized. Make sure you have bottles premade, know where the extra diapers were stored, extra face cloths,or even having a bra handy when someone decides to stop by without calling and you are only in your nightgown.
Other than that...learning how to swaddle the baby before leaving the hospital. My guys loved that. A bassinet that the side folds down so you can sneak a peak while the babies are sleeping and you don't have to lift your head off of the pillow.
Bouncy seats. Once they can hold their heads up, it will give them tons of entertainment and your hands are free. The baby bjorn, even if you have the baby in there and you don't leave the house...it's that dinner time witching hour where someone is going to be fussy.
As crazy as it sounds, those Johnson and Johnson wash cloths that you just need to add water to for quick sponge baths. Back up binkies..keep them in every room and glove box. You know someone is going to throw one somewhere and when you need one available, you need it right then and now.
Oh baby Einstein videos...they may have been proven not to make your children more intelligent, but in my mind...I was still a huge fan.
8. How did feeding twins go for you, breastfeeding or bottle feeding, what worked, what was challenging?
We decided to bottle feed and not breast feed. I developed an infection after having the boys and was hospitalized and on IV antibiotics for days, so, in reality I would not have been able to, even if it was the best choice for me.
I always enjoyed feeding time. I was lucky. The boys always were cooperative. I loved the rocking and the snuggling. When one would get hungry, I would feed and spend the time and then wake the other guy up and do the same. I tried to keep them on some sort of schedule. It wasn't perfect, but it worked. I found myself very selfish when it came to feeding. It took me a while to share the responsibility. Had to be in control. Didn't think anyone could do it as well as I could. It was a small fortune, but I always had healthy and smart little boys, sometimes too smart
9. What is the best or most unique part about having twins?
Well, before having the boys it was a different kind of attention. Everyone wanted to make sure everything was okay. Everyone wanted to know everything. Even after having the twins, there is a fascination about them. Are they fraternal, are they identical, how long did you carry them, what did they weigh etc.
You watch these guys and for some crazy reason they can do some things entirely the same, and then blow your mind and do the same thing but totally different. You get to see two little babies grow at the same time, minute for minute and they just fascinate you.
One is a kisser, while the other is a snuggler. They can both show so much love and emotions, yet they do it in different ways.
They have a bond that you can watch and either cry or smile or both. They are two different boys. An example, they were in the same Kindergarten class this year, yet had different friends, sat at different tables, like different colors, but at the end of the day they meet up with each other. It is crazy to see their transformation.
10. What are some challenges overall with having twins?
There are always going to be challenges in your day to day life, but I think the biggest one is trying to keep them as individuals as much as possible. Many times it is this one does this, but the other one does it this way. How come one likes math, while the other likes reading...as a teacher once said? I know the difference because one always wears bright vibrant clothes, while the other is in neutral.
11. How do you manage two at the same age at the same time, meeting their needs, etc.? What helps you?
It's funny, some days I will have to say that I have no idea how I do it if you want the honest truth. It goes back to just winging it. A lot of it I think has to do with patience and in other cases, auto pilot.
There are times when I have schedules for my schedules, and yet I may still forget something. I think a lot of it has to do with routines. Strangely they work...at least for the most part.
What helps?? I am not sure if there is any tool out there, but I do think that the best thing I can say is not to stress the small stuff. They are healthy and they are safe and those are the important things. If I forget to put their homework in their backpack, or even if I put the wrong homework in the wrong backpack, it is okay, they will survive. They may tell me "mom do you know what they did today?? Or hey you messed up.....again," but you take it in stride because you know there is something else. You do your best.
12. What is your advice to a new mom with twins?
Do not hesitate to take any type of help when it is offered. Even more, if you need help ask for it. I used to feel a little strange if my mother-in law was washing my laundry and folding my underwear. Then you realize...hey, at least it is clean and you don't have to worry about it. People are there to help, let them help, at the same time, realize that it is okay to stand up for yourself and let them know that you need some time for just you and your new family together and not feel bad about it.
Your life will not be the same. You will be exhausted, you may leave the house with two different shoes or a stain on the front of your shirt that you have no idea where it came from, but know that no matter what, you are doing an amazing job. Never question that. You make mistakes, and it is okay, you are allowed. Do not let it get you down.