Sometimes I think back on our first year of twin life—with Seth and Jesse as skinny little infants and Kyle a wild child at not yet three years old—and I'm amazed that Mick and I still talk to each other with any civility, much less share a home.
We were positively psychotic from the stress, sleep deprivation and the constant crying (mostly mine).
I have absolutely hideous (favorite word alert!) memories of times when Seth and Jesse were squalling and Kyle was sobbing to climb onto my lap with the other two. Holding three wailing kids under three at once is not all it's cracked up to be, believe me. Especially when they launch into the arched-back version of baby tantrums.
I couldn't quite get a grasp on what would set the little ones off. Hunger, a poopy diaper, exhaustion—these I understood. But sometimes Seth and Jesse would get hysterical (in the bad way) when they just looked at each other.
I remember one of my rare forays into simultaneous twin breasteeding—rare because it was always such a hilarious and complete failure. But this time it worked. I sat proudly propped up by pillows, nursing my little munchkins, their eyes closed as they blissfully fed. It would only be minutes before they both sank into sleep, I hoped, so that I too could nap.
Suddenly, Jesse's eyes popped open and he realized that Seth was nursing only inches away from him. He shrieked like a banshee, Seth shrieked back and the baby screamfest was on. Feeding over, nap cancelled.
After Kyle's birth, I'd sip my herbal ice tea and eat lovely chicken salad sandwiches before nursing. I'd cook up veggie-laden stir fries for my husband. He'd make cheese and broccoli omelets for me in the morning, with lightly buttered whole-wheat toast.
But once two more were added to the mix, we ate more like starving animals, chowing down on whatever was in our reach. I recall once my mother gently suggesting that I consider a vegetable or piece of fruit as I was hurriedly wolfing down something unsatisfying and unhealthy in between diaper changes. I think my reply, with the profanity bleeped out, was something like "I don't have %$*&%$*&% time for produce!"
We yearned for order and we yearned for sleep. Craved both like drug addicts and got little of either. So many, many times we'd think we'd found success. All three children sleeping, we'd leap into bed and fall asleep within seconds, only to be yanked from blessed slumber ten blasted minutes later with that dreadful sound: "Wahh!" It was our very own horror movie and it never ended.
We found respite in brief showers, in cups of tea and even supermarket runs. And if you've ever shopped at Fairway on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where agruments routinely break out in the overcrowded aisles, you'll understand just how desperate we were for time alone, for a respite from the crying...for simply not having small, grubby hands pulling and tugging at us.
Somehow, neither of us ran away. Or lost our minds completely, though I have all the sympathy in the world for anyone who deals with a poor sleeper or a colicky baby.
And when I look through the photos of that time, we look like any happy family, smiling, hugging, content. But that year of living hideously? Never again.