By: Heather Somaini
Yes, you read that correctly. I adopted my own genetically biological children.
As same sex marriage continues to evolve in our great state of California and across the country, you might think that just having children and then getting your name put on their birth certificate would be everything a parent would need to do. But funny enough, same sex parents and their children fall into a legal grey area that sometimes feels like the Wild, Wild West to me. No one truly knows what “should” be done until a case is presented that tests the laws that exist.
But back in 2007 when our little guys were born, it was even more vague and grey. Before we got pregnant, Tere and I had completed and submitted all the appropriate paperwork for a Domestic Partnership in the state of California. A domestic partnership provides to same sex couples most, if not all, of the same rights, protections, and benefits that straight couples have. That sounds great, right? I agree.
What it doesn’t do, is require any other state to also grant those same rights and protections. What that means is that even though our family is protected in California, if we were ever to travel outside of, or move to, another state, we can’t be guaranteed those same rights. In fact, those rights are actually stripped away in other states every day.
We knew we had to protect ourselves and our children as much as we could and our lawyer highly recommended a Step-Parent Adoption which would legally define me as the twins’ second parent. Even though we used my eggs (and an anonymous sperm donor) and the babies were genetically mine, no one really pays attention to it. Instead, the birth mother (in this case, Tere) is considered the only true, legal parent. So we petitioned the court to legally recognize my kids as mine and subject me to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under the law of any other parent.
The process of adopting for us was not as stringent as a standard adoption. There was no home visit or psychological profile that needed to occur. Instead, the four of us had to trudge down to a social worker’s office and spend a few hours telling our entire life story, from how we met all the way through our extended journey through baby-making.
I know a number of other people were really upset by the whole process and even having to go through with it but I sort of felt like it was a learning experience just like any other. It made me really think about what it meant to be a parent to these two little creatures that I rushed to come home to, the ones that woke us up in the middle of the night, the munchkins that were putting me through the paces every day. They were mine and no one could say otherwise but this legal document would make it official.
A number of months later, we all went before a judge in Monterey Park. He asked some very serious questions. I answered them all in the affirmative. He pounded his gavel and made it official. That was it. The babies each got a stuffed animal. I know it will probably never really come up for the kids because it would be difficult for them to even understand family law until they’re much older and by then I’m sure it will have all been hashed out but hopefully they will know that we did everything we could to make sure we were all “covered” as a family.
For a brief moment in time, the state of California allowed same sex couples to marry. Almost a year after the finalization of the adoption, Tere and I were legally married by our friend Zach. Once again, we’re in a grey zone since same sex marriages soon after that were suspended and it’s all slowly making its way through the court system.
We have one of everything – a Domestic Partnership Certificate, a Marriage Certificate, and a Legal Step-parent Adoption – and we’ll wait and see how lots of people decide how to define what we already know. We’re a family and nothing they do in Sacramento or Washington DC or Tuscaloosa for that matter is ever going to change that.
Interview with Heather Somaini by The Next Family
The Next Family thought it would be fun to begin conducting interviews with our writers to get to know them a bit better. If you have any questions of your own, feel free to ask Heather in the comments section.
TNF: How has it been blogging for TNF for over a year now?
Well, it’s been scary and exciting and somewhat torturous. I never realized how much time and energy it takes to write 500+ words. And I’m rarely happy with what I write.
TNF: What aspect has been scary for you?
Putting everything out there for everyone to see. I have to focus on not thinking about what other people will think about my writing or me or my weird thoughts. Otherwise, I turn into a pool of mush on the floor worrying that everyone will seriously laugh at me.
TNF: Do you feel like you hold back in your blogs for fear of judgment?
Sometimes, but I usually work through it and act like no one is ever going to read it. That makes it easier. The only thing that really holds me back is writing about people in my life right now that could ultimately affect me. So I don’t write about situations that have happened at work or with our kids’ school that I think are really sort of crazy. I don’t think I would want to write anything about my family that would upset them or start a rift with them. I guess I just don’t want awkward situations with the people closest to me or the ones I have to see every day. But I do have thoughts about them and the sort of crazy situations they put me in.
TNF: That makes sense, although I’m always drawn to the most vulnerable writers. How does your family feel about being written about all the time? Do they get approval rights before it goes live?
I always ask if they are ok with what I’m going to write about and give a bit of final approval although no one has really taken the opportunity to edit. Tere probably gets the least amount of choice in what I write or any approval rights. She definitely gets the shortest stick. The really funny thing is that some people in my life are not happy that they HAVEN’T been written about. Some are more straight forward about it than others but I guess everyone just wants to be acknowledged and celebrated.
TNF: I would think that Tere would get the most; it’s got to be tough being written about by your spouse. I guess that’s a sign of a good trusting relationship. I have found reading your blogs to be particularly interesting in that you have a completely different perspective than I do. You represent the other mother or the non-birthmother. How has that been for you –or do you even distinguish between the two?
I really feel like I’m some sort of new third type of parent that incorporates a bit of both a mom and a dad. It’s only a challenge when people expect me to be one thing and I end up being something else. We had a situation at our preschool last year and I think they were surprised when I pushed back hard on how things were playing out. It seemed their expectations of me were more “mom-like” and in the end I responded more “dad-like”. Those situations are difficult for me. I have a very unique “spot” and role in a family. It’s not a clear path and I feel quite often that I have to find my own way but I’m ok with that. I’ve never really taken the easy route to do anything so it fits.
TNF: That’s really interesting. Do you think the same happens to Tere or is her role more clear cut? Did the two of you have to work out who did what in the case of parenting or did you find it to be a natural transition?
I think Tere’s role is very clear cut. She’s the mom. Period. That’s it. The kids know it, everyone gets that. I think Tere was very stereotypical and wanted (still wants) to be Super Mom. My biggest challenge inside our house was to not be marginalized and shut out. It’s been and continues to be hard work to claim my space as a parent. It’s just not inherent in new mothers to share their parenting responsibility I think. They want to run the show and lots of dads are ok with that. I wasn’t. I wanted a say – a big say.
TNF: How did that go over with Tere?
Not well. It’s been a process. It still is. I’m pretty sure it’s not what Tere expected or maybe even wanted but in the end, I think she appreciates me. I think she would rather have it like this than having me check out and do my own thing. Or at least I tell myself that!
TNF: Do you think dads check out?
I think a lot do. Not all of them. We know lots of dads that are very involved. But at the end of the day, moms either end up staying home and take on the full responsibility of kids, or both parents work and the mom gets double duty. It’s just in our nature to take care of the people in our lives, especially the ones that really “need” us. So it becomes easy for dads to focus on work and other things.
TNF: I’m finding that less and less so in my observation of moms and dads, the roles seem to be shifting a bit but I get what you’re saying. How about your kids, are they asking the tough mommy daddy questions yet?
No, not at all. I’m not sure why. We don’t even hear much about other kids at the preschool asking or commenting. We’re the only same sex parents in the school and it almost seems like no one really pays attention, which is a good thing.
TNF: Do you have many friends that are same sex parents?
No, not that many. It’s unfortunate but in reality, most parents are straight – like over 95% of them.
Is it important to you to have other SSP’s in your life?
No, not exactly but it would be nice. It feels like there are so many components that go into finding other parents that we like, that have similar interests, similar challenges with their kids, similarly aged kids, etc. We can’t be too picky when it comes to who we actually like and connect with.
Thanks Heather for giving us insight into your world. It’s been a pleasure having you blog for us. Beautiful picture of the family too.
By: Heather Somaini
I’ll be honest…I don’t have much to write about our babies’ first holidays. Nothing spectacular really happened. But if you’re like me, you love the holidays. It truly starts around Halloween, winds through to Thanksgiving, peaks at Christmas and finally goes out with a bang on New Year’s. I love the smell of the holidays. I love the feeling in the air, the change of colors and the urge to shop. I love how much love there is around me. It’s the time of year when everyone puts their best foot (or heart) forward. I like people best then. I love a little more. I try to argue a little less. Hopefully, I’m successful!
What I do have for you are some really fun pictures from our first holidays with the twins. For Halloween, Tere had to have two different costumes for them. One was for their Mommy and Me class (as Hershey’s Kisses) and the other was for actually going out trick or treating. Now we all know there’s no real trick or treating with 7-month-olds, but they sure did look cute as a bumble bee and a lady bug.
We spent Thanksgiving here in Los Angeles and got a jump on the “take your kids’ picture with Santa” thing. As you can see, sitting with Santa is a little awkward for little ones. Free even lost his shoe.
We also got these awesome shots of the kids in Santa hats…
My favorite pictures from that Christmas though are of the twins with their great-grandmother. She adored their little faces and wanted nothing more than to just hold them as often as she could.
And here’s one last one of the kids in their holiday finest. No mom can resist the temptation to dress their babies or kids up during the holidays!!
By: Heather Somaini
Once we decided to have kids, life changed – incrementally at first and then in large swings into uncharted territory. No matter what we thought kids and parenting were about, we were wrong. That’s the one thing no one really tells you. The moms tell you all about the cute parts like buying baby clothes and how they smell. The dads tell you all about the hard parts like lack of sleep and poopie diapers. But no one tells you that what you’re about to experience is so outside your realm of understanding that it’s not even worth trying.
Each phase ratchets upwards like some sort of rollercoaster from a planet where rollercoasters are a mode of transportation from the ground to the top of a high-rise building. At first, they hand you this newborn that does nothing but eat, sleep, and poop. You burp them a lot and hope that they’re ok because you have no idea what they need or want. My only thought was to keep moving forward every day. The jolt to my normal sleep pattern was severe. Just. Keep. Moving. Forward.
After three months of that, they sleep less, eat more, and poop like crazy. There was a brief few weeks of euphoria – we made it through the first three months and it was easier! The babies were more than pet rocks, which helped. Life was better. I started talking about having more children. If we could manage so well with twins, one or two more would be a breeze, right? After six months, the euphoria had worn off; we were exhausted and I started to realize that this was like…forever. They weren’t going away.
We had to start sleep training. We had started. Don’t think we hadn’t but we needed to get serious about it. Tere chose the Sleep Easy Solution by Jill Spivack and Jennifer Waldburger. She searched high and low and really felt it was the best combination of sleep training and lack of torture for the parents. I use the term “parents” loosely because the only one who is really tortured during sleep training is the mom. The mom is the one who just can’t stand to let them “cry it out” like in the Ferber Method. In the Sleep Easy Solution, sleep training can start when a baby is a combination of age and weight. At 4 months and 14 pounds, they should be ready but some babies may take longer to hit that goal weight. There’s no crying it out and that’s what Tere liked best.
We read the book and did everything we were supposed to do. It would work for a bit but then it wouldn’t. Tere heard that Jill Spivack was doing a “talk” to promote her book and I happily agreed to go. After listening to story after story, many of their techniques suddenly made sense!
My favorite was the “dream feed”. Jill and Jennifer’s system requires that you determine when your baby actually needs to be fed at night and then “dream feed” them. Dream feeding allows you to feed the baby, usually with a bottle, while they’re sleeping. It avoids not only them waking up hungry and crying their heads off until you wake up, but also you spending a ton of time feeding them and getting them back to sleep. With a dream feed, they eat while they’re asleep and NEVER WAKE UP! It’s pretty awesome because you’re back in bed and asleep in less than 30 minutes.
Although life with babies would change again soon, at least for the time being we were getting a little more sleep and the babies were learning how to sleep through the night! Yippee!
By: Heather Somaini
I know you’re asking yourself what a picture of two babies floating aimlessly in a pool has to do with margaritas or more to the point, why margaritas are your friend. But trust me, they are.
Tere nursed the twins for about seven months. I use the term “nurse” loosely because she never really did nurse them. We had so many complications before the babies were born and then after that a couple weeks in, we abandoned nursing altogether and my wife pumped exclusively. The twins both ate formula with as much breast milk as Tere could produce. Tere always said she wanted to nurse for at least six months. I was happy to go along with whatever she wanted. Six months seemed like a great amount of time to me.
Around five months in, Tere started talking about scaling it back and wanting to stop at the six-month mark. I happily said I was in support of whatever she wanted to do. One night she was struggling with her decision to stop pumping and asking me my thoughts. I didn’t have many so that’s what I expressed. She finally said “Am I the only one around here that’s upset and sad about the end of breastfeeding?” I knew it was one of those moments where I should probably be thoughtful before I answered so I paused…and thought. I finally said “Yes!” Tere was devastated. I guess she thought I was wracked with conflict over this. The truth is, I only think the birth mother is the one that is attached to it. It was actually great for me that the babies took formula – it gave me all the opportunity I wanted to feed them.
So here was Tere, completely wrecked about her decision to stop nursing. And she just couldn’t do it. She tried and she tried but something inside her just wouldn’t let her stop. I’m sure she felt selfish, that wanting her body back as her own was not the selfless act that all mothers should naturally just do. So no matter how hard she tried, she just kept on pumping.
Without me really realizing it, an answer was just ahead of us. We went on vacation. It was just a short four days down in Mexico at a resort that Tere and I knew well. We had actually planned to go the year before but when Tere got pregnant, she didn’t want to leave the safety of our house and our doctors. So, I sweet-talked the resort manager to let us postpone our trip by a year if I booked a second room. We took my parents!
My parents came to Los Angeles a few days before and we all flew down together. It was a bit of a trek with seven-month-old twins but when we arrived, it was paradise. Off season and relatively empty – we had the place to ourselves. After checking in, I promptly corralled my family into the lobby lounge area and started perusing the drink menu. Soon I had the babies asleep in their strollers and all the grown-ups deciding what kind of margarita they wanted. When the waiter came we ordered some food and EVERY MARGARITA ON THE MENU. Yes, I’m serious. We were on a margarita tasting high. We must have looked like raging alcoholics.
Tere did not want to drink at all. She knew that she needed to pump later that evening and any alcohol would be transferred to her breast milk and then ultimately to the babies. After a bit of coaxing, she finally agreed to “pump and dump”. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The nursing mother pumps her breast milk like normal but then essentially throws it away or “dumps” it. Tere sampled every margarita we ordered.
The next day we spent at the pool. When the lunch order came around, my mom and I ordered a couple of our favorite margaritas from the night before. Tere hesitated but then decided to drink one anyway. She justified it by saying she was on vacation so it would be ok to “pump and dump” one more day. We drank margaritas pretty much every day while we were in Mexico and so did Tere. By the time we left to return home, she hadn’t pumped any breast milk for the babies and came to the decision to stop altogether. Suddenly, it was the easiest decision she ever made.
So there you have it my friends. If your wife is having a hard time bringing her nursing career to an end, just take her on vacation to a warm locale with great margaritas. She’ll feel much better about it very soon.
By: Heather Somaini
Change happens. Sometimes it happens when it’s least expected and sometimes we plan change only to find out it happens much differently than we planned. I sort of love change. It forces me to constantly evaluate my life which can be a big pain but it almost always results in something better. I’ve never truly regretted making a big change in my life although I have had to make a few new changes when the first one didn’t work out. That does happen sometimes.
The year our babies were born held a lot of change for our little family. Tere had been in the hospital for something like three months before their birth. I went from using our big house as a place to sleep and change clothes to suddenly having a house full of people and crying babies.
Tere worked from her bed all during her stay at the hospital and then from home for another four months. When she finally went back to work, she started to realize it wasn’t the best fit for her. It wasn’t anyone’s fault; it just wasn’t a good fit. It happens. In the meantime, my 45-minute, one-way drive to work was becoming a problem. I couldn’t care less about the drive but I just didn’t want any extra time away from the things I needed and wanted to do. When I was done with work, I wanted to be home with our babies.
I had wanted to sell our house for a while. We had remodeled the entire thing. It was gorgeous but unless we were going to live in it for a very long time, there was no reason to hold on to it any longer. To get our investment out, we needed to sell. Tere wasn’t sure where she would end up next but it was certainly west of our house in the Hollywood Hills and I worked much further west as it was. I took the opportunity to press Tere to sell. She took me up on it and soon we were in sales mode. Selling your house is stressful but I love it. It doesn’t get much better – I really should have been a salesman of some sort! Soon we had multiple offers and lots of negotiating happening all around us.
As the end of the year approached, we had increased our family to four, Tere had started a position with a new company, and our house was closing escrow. It was the end of 2007 and real change was lurking around the corner. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My real point is that even after what was probably the most stressful time in our lives, I look back very fondly on all of it. I see this picture of my wife and our son snoozing in our bed late one weekend morning and it makes me smile. I loved that house. I loved that time. I love driving the kids up that hill and showing them the house we brought them home to. They have no idea what I’m talking about but they humor me nonetheless.
Tere and I have had a lot of change. We will still have more change to come and although sometimes we sweat the small stuff, it’s moments like this picture that make me stop and realize what we’re really doing.
Living. Breathing. Being.
I hope you get a chance today to stop and breathe and maybe remember a great moment in your life when change happened.
By: Heather Somaini
I’ve been thinking lately about people. Our people specifically. We have people in our lives that we rely on in varying degrees. We have a small inner circle of family and friends that are our constants, the ones that we keep very close. From there, the circles get bigger and expand to include all the other people that we spend time with.
But one day we had kids and everything changed. Our family stayed in the same circle, clearly they had to – they’re FAMILY. I started to see our friends in different groups – friends with kids, friends without kids, gay friends with kids, gay friends without kids, single friends and friends in relationships. The list went on and on. There was always a disconnect between what we were doing and what our friends were doing. Something easy to point at but difficult to fully appreciate.
Soon we were spending time on Saturdays with new friends who all had twins. These people were necessary. They understood what we were going through right then. We all spoke the same twin-dom language that everyone else misunderstood. Our problems were the same. Our highs and lows were similar. The time we spent with friends without kids dwindled immediately.
Two years later, we found ourselves spending a lot of time with the parents at our kids’ pre-school. Their kids were the same age as ours; we were learning the ins and outs of the pre-school together and tackling the challenges of our own kids realizing there are rules out there in the world. We all banded together and I realized we were spending less time with our twin friends. These new pre-school parents seemed to fit better for some reason.
Of course more time has passed and our friend configuration seems to have adjusted again but this time I’m seeing a real pattern. I’m realizing that none of these groups in their entirety works for our family. They all come with their pros and cons. The people I’m finding we are more and more drawn to fall into a very particular category – they’ve all had some sort of struggle, just like us. I’m going to call it “my kind of weird” which seems really terrible at first but I use the term affectionately because I think I’m weird too.
I called my mom this weekend and asked her when she realized I was a little different (or weird). I wasn’t necessarily different because I was gay, I had no idea back then. But instead I think my thought process was different, I read different books than the other kids and I was interested in music from my parents’ generation, like the Beatles and Elvis. My mom says I wasn’t different, but then in that New England sense of humor she said “No, I didn’t think you were weird because for an entire year when you were 10 you refused to go out without your blue baseball hat and blue sweater. No, you weren’t weird at all. Or that you always had your nose in a book or headphones on. I didn’t think you were weird when the only dress you ever wore was to your Junior Prom and then your brother wore it in a show two years later. No, there was nothing weird about you guys at all.” Ya gotta love Mom.
I’m realizing that my struggles, my “weird”, has made me who I am and it makes me very much appreciate it in others. Struggle gives us a different perspective on life and compassion for the human condition. I’m happy that in the past year we had our first real challenge with one of our kids because it’s given me the skill set to handle the next one. The people that are closest to us right now have also had challenges. They’re going through divorce, loss, medical and developmental challenges. They are rebuilding their careers, rehabilitating their personal lives, and nurturing their children.
They’re struggling just like me. They’re my kind of weird.
By: Heather Somaini
A friend of mine was telling me recently of the great detail and excitement that another friend was providing about a dinner she had at The French Laundry, the famed restaurant in Yountville, CA. I listened as my friend seemed in awe of how amazing the food was, the excitement that each course was explained to her in words that seemed otherworldly. I could see that my friend was lost in this dreamland of amazing food, great wine, and brilliant surroundings.
I hated to disappoint her but then again I wasn’t – sometimes it is fun to have the upper hand. I told her the food wasn’t THAT great. She looked at me and kept talking. I said, “I’ve eaten there three times. It’s very good but it’s not rave-about-every-morsel good.” My friend seemed somewhat disappointed. She sort of didn’t want to believe me but then she had to; she knows me well enough. I wouldn’t lie to her and I know my food.
It made me think about experiences, expectations, and memory. Why are some experiences better than others? Why is one event more memorable than the one before? How is it that a Dodger dog on a hot summer night for a young boy might be the meal of a lifetime? But a pizza near the train station in Venice, Italy has kept me chasing the dragon for years?
I had grand expectations of my first dinner at French Laundry and it was great. I loved it. It was delightful. But the dinner I had at my own house a week ago was truly amazing. The wine was flowing. The food was excellent. Our surroundings were lovely. The people were delightful. The conversation was exceptional. We laughed all night long telling stories most of us had never heard before. I haven’t laughed that hard or had as much fun in a long time.
So what makes one dinner over another so amazing? What is that elusive quality or set of qualities that turns an ordinary evening into something special, even spectacular? What is the secret ingredient? Are we even looking for it, trying to recreate it? Do we have expectations and do they color our memory of an event? Do our memories even match up to what actually happened?
I think my favorite memories were all unexpected. It was a restaurant we just stopped in to because we needed to kill some time before a train (that amazing pizza in Venice). It was people I didn’t realize I would like so much or have so much in common with. It was a feeling I didn’t know existed let alone I could have.
It was the woman that emailed me a very funny, flirty line, the wine I just ‘stopped in’ to try, the kiss that was suddenly happening, the tiny arms wrapped around my neck whispering goodnight before they run to their beds.
When I think back to the things I love, they’re always unexpected.
By: Heather Somaini
I read an article the other day by Karen Hartman in the New York Times. It chronicles her very unusual situation. You see, back in 2000, Karen and her girlfriend drove from their home in Brooklyn up to Vermont to get hitched under that state’s more favorable same-sex marriage laws.
I have to add a disclaimer here and let you know that my family is from the great state of Vermont. I lived there until I was ten; my grandparents are buried there; my grandmother Pearl worked for the state’s long-standing senator Patrick Leahy; my mother and cousin graduated from the University of Vermont…I love that state. But even I didn’t run off to get married there “just because I could”.
As you know, New York just recently passed a new law to allow same-sex marriage in their state and the first ceremonies will be held this Sunday, July 24th.
The problems began for poor Karen and her nameless lesbian wife four years later when Karen had an affair with a man and decided she wasn’t gay anymore. She wanted a lesbian divorce. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get a lesbian divorce because New York didn’t recognize her marriage in the first place, only Vermont did. They would have to be divorced there but then it got only trickier. Vermont, like almost every other state, has a one-year residency requirement to grant a divorce. In a typical marriage, the state you live in recognizes the other state’s marriages so your residency requirement is a non-issue. But if your state doesn’t recognize your marriage in the first place, that state can’t issue the divorce.
So for seven long years, Karen and the nameless wife stayed in limbo. They sold their house and signed an agreement separating everything in their lives except this pesky little Vermont marriage they had. Karen settled in with her new boyfriend and had a baby. As she writes in the article,It was weird to go to restaurants with a man and feel a quiet avalanche of approval. It was weird to hold hands in public without thinking about it, and soon without even thinking about not thinking about it. It was weird to say, “My boyfriend will be right down” to a cabdriver. It was weird because it wasn’t weird. It wasn’t queer. I wasn’t queer anymore, except on the books in one state.
This is where I get off the pity party train. I actually felt badly for this woman up until here. She made a choice and at some point realized she needed to make a new choice but got stuck in a legal sticking point –I get that. I’m sympathetic to that. What I’m not sympathetic to is a woman who so clearly had an issue with being gay that she ran back to being straight and now wants us to feel sorry for her because she can’t get a divorce and be “normal” and have the “approval” of everyone around her.
I understand that sometimes gay people don’t actually feel proud and despise themselves because of what they think is the world’s disapproval of them. But when I get up every morning, I just feel like me. I’m proud of me. I’m happy with me. If someone isn’t too keen on me, that’s ok. I’m probably not too keen on them either. That happens all the time. But no one gets to tell me that I’m less than because of anything that I am. I have every right to be on this planet and pursue my version of happiness just like every other little creature here. I am more than a woman or gay or a mother or a daughter or a wife. I’m me – unique and special and perfect just like everyone else.
Karen on the other hand, thought it was weird to be gay. She was much happier holding her boyfriend’s hand and not worrying about what other people might say about her. I think that’s totally fine but don’t call the rest of us “weird” because we’re not like you. Don’t tell us we should be embarrassed by our lives like you were when you were one of us.
Karen and her pro bono lawyer eventually got her a divorce in the state of New York and 40 or so days later, she married her 4-year-old child’s father. Good for her. I’m sort of glad she’s one of “them” now. I think it’s only fitting that it took that long to finalize it. I’m sure those six years of being married to a woman but living with the father of her son felt “normal”.
By: Heather Somaini
There are tons of challenges with twins that suck up vast amounts of brain power as a new mom. You’re already working on a reduced amount of engine capacity from lack of sleep and being thrown into the deep end of the parenting pool. There’s nothing right about being required to learn a completely new task that constantly changes from minute to minute while under the duress of limited sleep. It’s just not right. Thank God newborn babies are really cute and helpless, otherwise our species would have died off long ago.
Twins are unique and they come with their own set of weird and odd issues. The first is –do you keep them together? Yes, of course you should actually keep both of your twins and not give one away, but what I meant was, should you keep them together in the same crib or in separate cribs? I’m sure there are lots of opinions on this but we were determined to keep our twins together in the same crib. We kept our daughter in a bassinet in our bedroom but as soon as our son came home from the hospital, we put them together in the same crib. I remember that first night when my unflappable mother came running giddily into me and said “You must come see them. It’s the cutest thing I think I’ve ever seen.” It was awfully cute, two small 6-ish-pound babies in that gigantic crib sleeping soundly. Fast-forward six months, and they were rolling over onto each other and kicking each other in the head. It was time they each had their own crib and although we were worried about their separation anxiety, they had none.
Another decision a new twin parent has to make is their attire. Do you dress your twins alike? Lucky for us we had a boy and a girl so it made life easier for us. We had lots of matching clothes in the beginning but soon they outgrow those cute onesies and you move on to toddler and kid clothes that are really cute. But no matter how tempting it is to buy your twins identical outfits, try very hard to not do it. Now, matching outfits are totally fine for holidays like Christmas, the 4th of July, and even family pictures, but be careful; it’s a very dangerous road to go down.
A few years down the road, any mom with more than one kid will know that Conflict Resolution is a mainstay in her house. With twins it’s even worse. Even with a boy and a girl, there is constant conflict over a toy, a game, or even how to make up a story. They each scream and stomp off and generally someone has gotten hit or kicked. Susie Walton teaches a great parenting class called Redirecting Children’s Behavior and with four grown boys, she knew about fighting firsthand. But she told us once that if there’s no blood and no one is in real danger, it’s probably best to let them work it out on their own. That actually works most of the time but resolving conflict is almost second nature to us now. We have found lots of ways for both of them to get what they want and hopefully respect each other in the process.
I’m sure soon we’re going to find out a number of other things that are unique to twins but those are my three for now. Twins are a logistical nightmare but if you’re diligent and plan ahead, you can get it all done. Anyway, my mom tells me the return policy on kids is just terrible so I guess we’ll keep ‘em.