What I’d Like For You To Know: A Mother of Multiples

WhatidlikeWelcome to another edition of the What I’d Like For You To Know series.  If you’re new here, the idea behind this series to is to ask women to share something about a specific life challenge or circumstance, addressing some of the misconceptions and (most importantly) telling us all how we can reach out better.

Today’s guest poster is Jen from 4Tunate–she’s mom of quadruplet boys!  Here’s her story…

Never in all my days of playing "house" as a child, did I ever, EVER, pretend to be a mother to quadruplets. When I’m approached in public with the infamous "Did you plan on having quadruplets?" question, I cannot help but chuckle.  I’m completely tempted to answer with a, "Yes ma’am. We ordered the 4 for the Price of 1 Full Meal Deal."  I think it’s safe to say that no one plans to leave the reproductive endocrinologist’s office with a litter of babies in tow.

Likewise, I could have never imagined a life full of so much joy, satisfaction, and laughter.  Instead of focusing on 4x the diapers, teeth, food, emergency room visits, and eventually driver’s licenses, I daily make a conscious effort to see my glass more than 1/2 full.  You see, we have the privilege of living a miracle.

August 2006 turned out to be THE defining month of our lives.  On the seventh of the month, we were given the news that we were finally pregnant after a difficult battle with infertility.  The "catch" was that despite our conservative efforts, there were three babies.  Two weeks later, after the shock of triplets had subsided ever so slightly, we found out there were two babes in one of the sacks, upping our count to four. Carrying quadruplets is an extremely high-risk situation; however, there were even more risks associated with our pregnancy.  We were told that our particular scenario was undocumented, extremely unlikely, and most likely unsurvivable for the 4 heartbeats that were beating strongly on the ultrasound machine. However, God had control over those tiny lives, and chose to give us the best case scenario: Four Healthy Miracles! In addition He decided to display His sense of humor by giving us all BOYS!

Although I’m experiencing a life that not many can imagine, I’d like to believe that we have more in common than you realize.  Although I’m a mama to four little guys, I’m still technically a first time mother.  I have countless flaws, weaknesses, and struggles that disqualify me from superhero title that is often assumed.  Hindsight has taught me much, and I’d love to share a few ways to encourage a mother of twins, triplets, or more.

*TIME
Often times people are intimidated by the overwhelming number of babies and shy away from offering help to a new mother of multiples.  They picture a house of complete chaos and disorganization.  On the contrary most high order multiple families discover that routine and organization is their sole means of survival. Countless times a relieved first-time volunteer would say, "This is not what I expected at all when I signed up to take a shift."   Your time is a priceless gift. Although we currently take care of the boys independently, we could not have weathered the first few months without our faithful volunteers.
If babies aren’t your specialty, offer to serve by washing bottles, helping with neglected yard work, delivering a prepared meal, or washing a few loads of laundry. You will be blessed by being a blessing!

*PRAYERS
Praying for a mother of multiples is the greatest gift you can offer. What an incredible way to show your love for their lives!

*NOTES, CARDS, EMAILS
While hospitalized over a month on bed rest, I received a note a day from a beloved friend. After reading them about 5x each, I would use them to decorate the white walls of my hospital room. It was comforting to know that even though I felt so isolated she was thinking of me daily.

*PHYSICAL PROVISIONS
Anything from registry items to diapers in ANY size, even gift cards to restaurants or grocery stores, are an enormous blessing!  Did I mention diapers?

*FRIENDSHIP
It becomes exceedingly difficult to maintain friendships during the first year of raising multiples, so please, please continue to pursue your relationships. Your friendship is highly valued.

Finally, I would like for you to know some phrases or conversations that are not beneficial to a mother of multiples. Words have a way of causing unintentional wounds.  Please use careful discretion when discussing the following with multiple mamas that you may meet:

~Questions Regarding Infertility Drugs or Treatments.  Infertility is a painful struggle.  It isn’t pleasant to be singled out for it constantly, when thousands of single babies have been conceived through the same methods. On top of that, it’s inappropriate to have these discussions in front of young children. (You can find excellent insight on this topic in the What I’d Like For You to Know:Infertility

~Telling us about every set of twins you’ve ever come in contact with…(If you’re about to start your sentence with "My aunt’s brother’s great uncle’s best friend’s barber was a twin…", refrain from doing so.  Instead, just stop and smile.)

~Asking if they each have their own personalities.  Yes, they are humans AND they are individuals.

~Talking about how it "only gets worse."  Definitely NOT beneficial.

~ Even though it might be the first thing that pops in your head, don’t say, "Wow, you’ve got your hands full!" We know.  We’ve heard it a million times, and you aren’t the first one to say it out loud today.

~Comparing your non-preemie baby in size or development

~Mentioning how "lucky" they are for having a c-section, having time to sleep while the babies are in the NICU, or getting out of part of the pregnancy due to premature birth.  We fought hard to keep these babies on the inside for as long as possible.  A mother already struggles with guilt associated with premature birth.

Thanks to Shannon for asking me to be a part of this insightful and impacting series.  Also, a heartfelt thanks to you as readers for allowing me to share a little piece of my heart today.

To read more of Jen’s posts, visit her blog here.

53 thoughts on “What I’d Like For You To Know: A Mother of Multiples

  1. Lainie@ Mishmash Maggie says:

    Thank you Jen! You were able to bring me right into your world and allow me to see what wonderful blessings the Lord has given you.
    Thank you for the cautions too. I for one always need help with being quick to hear and slow to speak.

  2. gretchen from lifenut says:

    Great post! People are fascinated by multiples and often let their mouths and assumptions go inappropriately nuts.
    And yes, I am about to violate one of your requests, but my brother and his wife have identical twin boys and they have been asked more than once which one is the “evil” twin. They are three.

  3. Trixie says:

    Hello Jen!
    Thank you so much for sharing this.I really enjoyed learning a bit about life with multiples.
    Congratulations on your 4 little men!
    Blessings,
    Trixie

  4. seussgirl says:

    I’m a mother to 7- month old boy twins, and I can’t tell you how spot-on your “what not to say” list is for me. Especially all of the premature items; mine were 10.5 weeks early, and it’s so hard for me to not compare them to others.
    Great post!

  5. Luckygirl says:

    Great post!
    I just got told today in the grocery store, “I was supposed to have twins but I lucked out and got one baby. Phew. I would hate to have twins.” My boys are only 6 months, so they can’t understand, but I really hope people don’t make those comments when they are older!

  6. Tina says:

    As a mom who carried quads, delivered quads and is now raising triplets, I can completely say a hearty AMEN to this post. (My triplets are now 7 and my singleton is 5 1/2!, so I’m thankfully well past those early years.)
    This is such a terrific series! Thank you for thinking of it!

  7. Gina says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Your line about “It becomes exceedingly difficult to maintain friendships during the first year of raising multiples” really hit home. I lost a lot of friends and acquaintances that year because they were frustrated that I couldn’t keep up with emails, phone calls, and visits. It made me feel like a failure and added stress to a very difficult first year.

  8. Carey says:

    This was a very interesting post. The part about “What Not To Say” really got me thinking. I never looked at the world from a mom-of-multiples point of view.
    I think it’s just human nature to be amazed by a family with multiples and be moved to comment, simply because they’re very special. I was especially surprised that Jen would prefer that people with multiples in their lives refrain from mentioning it. I rescued a retired racing greyhound, and when I see people in public with a greyhound I love to talk to them and mention my dog. It’s like a little private club!
    I promise… I’m not comparing her boys to dogs! I’m a mom too… and I can’t begin to understand what it would be like to have quadruplets, let alone having to discuss them with strangers. The next time I see multiples in public I’ll either leave them to their privacy, or I’ll just smile and say hello!

  9. Marybeth says:

    As a mother to a newborn boy, can I just say that the “it only gets worse” comment applies to ALL babies, not just multiples? I find it terribly insulting that people say this to me when I’m looking forward to enjoying EVERY milestone of my son’s life.
    Regardless, thanks for the information, and congratulations on your four blessings!

  10. Lori L. says:

    Beautiful post, Jen, and congratulations on your four blessings! How wonderful! I have boy/girl twins, and if you had a girl in the mix, you would probably be annoyed by the question I get all the time… “Are they identical?” Noooooo

  11. Tara says:

    Congratulations! I was pregnant with twins for only 13 weeks and was already annoyed by the ignorant questions I got all the time.
    And my husband got huge pats on the back for his “double shooter”. Um, it was all about the egg, he had something to do with it, but not with the twinning! No, we don’t have twins in the family, that really has very little to do with it. No, they were not a result of fertility treatments, not that my se* life is any of your business thankyouverymuch.
    (And of course, no, I wasn’t relieved that I lost them so I wouldn’t have to “deal” with twins.)
    I have a friend who is pregnant with twins. She’s further along than I ever got. I just try to nod and smile and help out however I can!

  12. Teri says:

    Thank you for letting us see things the way they are in your world. I hear the “You have your hands full” comment a lot with my three little ones. I agree. I already know that. It was so tempting to scream at our pastor one morning when he said it to me. I was holding the four year old’s hand, a purse, my bible and a diaper bag in one hand, the baby in a car seat in the other while telling the 6 yr. old she couldn’t eat another donut. He was standing there drinking a cup of coffee. I just smiled and remembered why God put the “Thou Shalt Not Kill” commandment in the list. Hang in there. Enjoy your boys!! You hands won’t be full for very long…..

  13. Jennifer says:

    During the first year, I had two wonderful girlfriends who would come over in their jammies (so I wouldn’t feel under-dressed!) every Friday morning to help me with my twin boys. Sometimes their visits were brief, but more often than not, they would last most of the day. It was so nice to have a few extra sets of hands, a chance to take a shower that lasted more than sixty seconds, and even more importantly, the opportunity to keep up our friendships, despite my state of sleep deprivation. Seven years later, the three of us still adore the memories of our Friday breakfasts, and I am still constantly blessed by these sweet friends of mine! So thankful for you, M. and P.

  14. edj says:

    Great post! As a mom to twins, I can relate to all the comments you get. My favorite, like a previous comment said, is when I get asked if my b/g twins are identical. Even better is when I get to have an argument about it, when someone insists they are or could be.
    I can’t believe you can blog with quads! Hats off to you. I’m looking forward to learning more of your story.
    And even though I have never experienced quads, I still think the following is true: It only gets easier.

  15. Kelli@CountryMommie says:

    Great post! As a Mom of twins, I totally can’t begin to imagine how you do it with twice as many as I have. I just know (as a first time Mom myself) that you just DO IT and we just don’t know anything other than what we have! I do sort of giggle a little at first time Moms with one baby telling me how hard it is. I know it’s all hard, but really, double or quadruple it and then it’s just crazy! πŸ™‚ I love my kids, they are almost four now and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.
    I’ve included the URL to my blog where I discussed “Don’t tell your friends who are having twins…”. You just have to laugh about it! πŸ™‚

  16. Photoqueen says:

    Thanks so much for your post! I learned about the what NOT to say this summer when my cousin had twins. I was so guilty of the “hands full” comment. Even though I had an infant of my own, I didn’t realize (until my cousin’s sister told me) how rude and annoying that could sound. So I don’t say that anymore. πŸ™‚ All that to say – thank you for sharing a bit about your life AND some helpful advice!

  17. Veronica says:

    Jen,
    Thank you for sharing yourself so openly. I loved reading your insightful tips. I can’t believe anyone would have the audacity to tell you that ‘it only gets worse’. I am a mommy of 5, with another on the way, and I have heard most of this stuff, too. Thank God, He gives me the strength to overcome the rude comments.
    Love, Veronica in CA

  18. Lora Lynn @ Vitafamiliae says:

    I have one to add to your list: “are they identical?” Because ours fall into the 15% where we aren’t sure, explaining the genetics and WHY we can’t tell is just not something I have time to do for every curious stranger. Besides that, THEY’RE RELATED. That is enough for us. And the people that want to tell me their opinion on the subject, or argue about the traits they should or shouldn’t have are not really helpful. I am satisfied that my boys are brothers. That is all they need to know.

  19. Aunt LoLo says:

    At the risk of breaking your rules….I want to start out by saying…I’m a twin. πŸ˜‰ We’re identical girls, and my mother’s “first children”, born when she was 21. (I’m younger by 77 minutes and can never figure out how to tell people how we’re ordered…I’m not the “oldest”, but we were her first pregnancy!) I have a question for you, though – my mother always told me the first 6 months were AWFUL (we’d take turns crying all day, or wake each other up, or have blow-outs the second we got to church…I’m sure you know what she’s talking about. ;-)) However, she said that after that, we entertained each other so that she could leave us in a room, with the baby monitor on, and go get her vacuuming done, etc. Now, I know my mother has a…selective memory, to say the least, but were your boys like that? Do they play well together? (BTW – we’re 27 now and the best. of. friends. ) It’s creepy how connected our kids are. They’re “technically” half-sisters anyhow (same DNA and all that) and, even living across the country from each other, if one wakes up during the night screaming, you can bet her cousin is across the country doing the same thing.

  20. Aunt LoLo says:

    @ Lora Lynn – My sister and I get the same question all. the. time. We’ve decided to just answer “yes”, since we look a lot alike. The story we got when we were kids was that the “placenta was lost in the mail”, so the test was never completed. All my life, I’ve pictured one nasty little bag of organs, languishing somewhere in a dark corner of an Idaho post office.

  21. Carrie of Ceaseless Praises says:

    Wow, thanks for this post. I’m coming away informed & also chastised for thinking or saying SOME of the above things…and also disgusted that some people would actually SAY some of the things above!
    Thanks for this series, Shannon- it is so neat to be able to use these posts to minister to others better!

  22. Libby says:

    Thank you so much for your post! As the mom of three little boys (including twins) I appreciate you sharing what I have thought so many times. I will never forget a trip to the grocery store (two carts, of course, one for food and one for babies while my oldest walked) when I must have been told “Wow, you’ve sure got your hands full!” at least five times. After the last time, my then 3 year old turned to me and said “Why does everyone keep SAYING that??” It even annoyed him!
    One last thought for families with multiples and a singleton (particulary an older sibling who was around pre-multiples). PLEASE don’t only comment on the babies in front of the big brother/sister. It is heartbreaking to see a little person’s face wondering “What about me?” when he constantly hears how adorable the twins/triplets, etc. are. Another great way to help new moms in this situation is to do things especially with the new big brother or sister! What a help for mom and a way to curb jealousy.

  23. Amy says:

    Great post!! Is this series written just for me – infertility, adoption, multiples? It’s starting to freak me out!
    I have a different take on the “hands full” comment. In many cases, people just want to start a conversation or acknowledge the children. Often, it seems to be said with empathy, like they understand that it’s not easy.
    The best comment I ever received was after getting the babies (not twins, but 1 week apart) ready and to the early service at church by myself. As I walked across the lobby with one (maybe they were 8 months or so at the time) in the pouch carrier and one in the umbrella stroller, a woman sitting in the lobby said, “You go, Mama!” I just beamed!

  24. Amy says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention: I heard someone suggest that when people say, “You’ve got your hands full!” a good response is, “Yes, but you should see my heart!”

  25. Kelli says:

    Thank you so much for that beautiful and inspirational post! People like you make me feel so honored to have the title of mom.

  26. Suzanne says:

    Thank you, thank you! I love your list of what not to say. We have five-year-old identical girl twins and got many of the same comments. The worst are the strangers (at Mervyn’s, Rite-Aid or Sizzler) asking whether we planned on having more kids, whether they were natural – or whether we can tell them apart! Add in the 13-year-old and the one due next June, and we’re sure to get more comments!

  27. SAHW says:

    Great post and great series! I love reading Jen’s blog and have been for a while now.
    Now expecting twins, I especially appreciate Jen’s point about not asking so bluntly if multiples are the result of fertility treatments. Many more single babies come into the world through treatments, and it seems awfully unfair to always have to be in the spotlight simply because ours turned into multiples.

  28. laura says:

    Wow, Jen. Thank you for telling it like it is. As a mother of twins, I am *done* with all the questions about infertility. Oh, and the ridiculous question “Are they identical?” Ummm… boy … girl… no. Hope life is great with your boys!

  29. Kristen says:

    I was delighted to hear that August 7, 2006 was such a day of joy for you! That’s the exact day I found out our baby had died (I was about 12 weeks pregnant). Somehow it’s very therapeutic (even now) to find out that there was a day of joy for someone out there on that same exact day. I am glad to say that since that time we have had a baby girl, and she is doing very well. Thank you for the informative post!

  30. GiBee says:

    Excellent post, Jen… very good advice!!! You are truly blessed, and I can’t wait to learn more about your boys!!!
    Blessings to you and your crew!!!!!
    On another note…. my great aunt’s best friend’s second cousin removed four times had a friend who … aw heck, who am I trying to kid.

  31. GiBee says:

    Excellent post, Jen… very good advice!!! You are truly blessed, and I can’t wait to learn more about your boys!!!
    Blessings to you and your crew!!!!!
    On another note…. my great aunt’s best friend’s second cousin removed four times had a friend who … aw heck, who am I trying to kid.

  32. GiBee says:

    Excellent post, Jen… very good advice!!! You are truly blessed, and I can’t wait to learn more about your boys!!!
    Blessings to you and your crew!!!!!
    On another note…. my great aunt’s best friend’s second cousin removed four times had a friend who … aw heck, who am I trying to kid.

  33. Sydni says:

    I absolutely love the “What I’d like you to know” series. The posts are always so emotional and have great advice for helping friends who are in that situation.
    And to break one of your rules…I can say that as an older sibling of twins, I agree with one of the comments above that doing something special for the older kids will mean a lot to them.
    Also, my mom always got mad when my sisters were referred to as “them” or “the twins.” She wanted us to always call them by their names because they are individual people, not a singular entity.

  34. MacKenzie @BRC Banter says:

    I don’t have kids yet so I am hesitant to say what is or is not annoying but I have to say I agree with Amy. Maybe it comes across differently, but it seems like that is something someone would say in a kind way.

  35. Anne Glamore says:

    Seconding or thirding the theme of not leaving the non-multiple child out. I solved this by letting my oldest introduce the twins to everyone. That made grocery store people focus on him and he loved it.

  36. megan says:

    I hope you don’t mind, but I have been so touched and informed by the “what i’d like for you to know” series that I’ve decided to write my own version on my blog about being a mother to a child with a disability. I’m not trying to copy, but I thought it would be a good way to inform my friends and family a little bit more about my life. I just wanted to let you know. Thank you for your wonderful blog…I truly love it!

  37. Rachel S. says:

    thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have 16 month old twin girls (born at 28 weeks after six weeks on hospital bed rest) As I type this (with one hand) I am feeding our newborn (huge surprise)! Everything you said was spot on!

  38. Helen says:

    What a great post. I have been following 4tunate for a while now.
    I have a premmie & I’m also offended by the “at least you missed those last uncomfortable weeks” comments. I spent 3 months in a hospital bed trying to keep her in as long as possible & I would have given anything to not have to visit her in the NICU!!!
    I was a Nanny to twins many years ago & I used to threaten to put a sign above their stroller outlining all their stats, I was so sick of being stopped & being asked all about them, especially if they were identical, they were b/g!!!
    Helen in Australia

  39. Whiney Momma says:

    Great story. I think it is only human nature for people to say things like that. They are either making conversation or just trying to be friendly, perhaps even trying to cheer you up. It is an open world…in fact, hardly anything that people say nowadays surprises me. I want to note that mothers of non-multiples, like those with even only two or three that are just a couple years apart get the “hands full” all the time. I sympathize with those that question infertility because frankly I do believe that is none of their business but I think for the most part mothers of all kinds can relate to this.

  40. Creative Triplet Mom says:

    Great post. I am a mother of 4 year old triplets. I certainly agree with all the stuff you mentioned about what you don’t like to hear. Also the first year where you lose all your friends. I basically didn’t go anywhere until mine were 2. Now, we are doing lots of stuff and have many friends most which are not multiples.

  41. Jennifer says:

    Excellent post. I know a mom with quads (all girls for her!) who says no matter where they go or how long they are out, from the first time they took the girls out of the house for anything but a doctor’s appt., SOMEONE asks if they used fertility drugs. Total strangers asking how they concieved their children.
    I can’t imagine ever asking someone how they concieved their child. How is that any different from asking if they were concieved the conventional way? It’s just not anyones business.

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