I rubbed my eyes and got out of bed, but not before realizing the pain coursing through my abdomen was not the remnants of a good time and instead the uncomfortable reminder of a c-section. I peeked into the crib across the bedroom to find my newborn son swaddled and snoozing peacefully. I walked into the family room where I could hear his twin cooing in the living room, entertaining his daddy.
“Some night, huh?” I muttered to my husband.
“Yeah…that sucked,” he said definitively. “How are we going to survive this?”
This being babyhood.
Life with twins.
I shook my head. I had no idea.
It’s remarkable how quickly our little five pound wonders turned our lives completely upside down. A mere 16 hours earlier, my husband and I carried our newborn boys across the threshold into clean, comfortable home. A home my husband and in laws spent hours scrubbing, sanitizing, dusting and vacuuming just days before, anticipating the boys’ arrival.
Now, our house - our sanctuary - displayed our disheveled state perfectly. It looked like a scene from the reality show, COPS – like one of those houses the police bust into to break up a domestic violence dispute or search for stolen ID’s. Those houses always seem to be messy and disheveled, a prerequisite, I imagined, for appearing on the reality show. Replace stolen property with baby products and we could have been starring in season 178 of COPS.
Evidence of our disastrous night littered our home. Half-empty, ready-made bottles of formula lay strewn across our kitchen counter, bedroom nightstands and dresser. In the corner, I saw the cords to my breast pump lying tangled on the floor. I vaguely recalled fumbling with them in the middle of the night (Did I pump? Had my milk come in?) Who knows…my brain was mush. The stack of clean diapers next to the crib now looked like they’d been ravaged and tightly bound bundles of (presumably) dirty diapers filled the garbage. I eventually found our dog snoozing under a mess of sleepers and baby blankets.
Suffice it to say, our first night home with our twins the evening before went downhill fast. After a quick dinner of take out, my husband and I got our newborns ready for bed, dressing them in fresh sleepers. All was calm. I took a shower and after two weeks of hospital bedrest, this one felt so good. For a few blissful minutes, I let the calming feeling of home wash over me. After taking a last peek at the boys, I eased myself into bed and nearly cried with joy. For the first time in months, I was able to lie on my back AND breathe at the same time. A miracle! My husband, who was also exhausted, and I exchanged a quick kiss and we settled into sleep.
Or so we thought.
Moments later, one of the boys started crying, which of course, woke the other one. Their chorus of crying pierced the darkness. Sheets were pulled back, lights were flipped on and we each grabbed a crying baby, hoping the crying would subside.
What transpired was a pathetic, albeit, hearty effort to meet their needs, failing miserably. We tried feeding and burping them, changing them, cuddling them and walking around the house with them. And, if my memory serves me correctly, I swore I heard my husband hum an off-key version of Dream On by Aerosmith. Nothing worked.
Hours later and with our boys still awake and fussy, my husband flipped on the television and said, “We might as well accept the fact we aren’t sleeping tonight. I’ll find something to watch on T.V.”
I wanted to burst into tears. I was so exhausted, I could hardly see straight and now we’d be up all night. I felt the cold hand of reality tap me on the shoulder and laugh in my face.
As to be expected, our choice in television programming at 1:00 a.m. consisted of little more than infomercials and old movies. We settled on La Bamba, hoping perhaps the soulful, Latin music would coax our twins to sleep. Of course it didn’t and the mere fact it didn’t, irritated me to no end. I knew I was hitting my limit when I began to envy Richie Valens.
The rest of the night crawled by, but sometime between 4 and 5, the boys must have quieted because at 6:00, I woke up with a start, felt that horrible headache and surveyed the damage of the night before. It wasn’t pretty, but it was over. Despite the collateral damage, we fought our way through our first night as parents.
Surviving this would take teamwork, patience and acceptance that our house would likely remain COPS-worthy for a number of years. And I was ok with that, as long as I didn’t have to see Lou Diamond Phillips shaking his hiney to that God-awful tune again.