Welcome 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.
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!
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.
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?
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.