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A toddler, & now twins?! The highs & lows of my rollercoaster life

A toddler, & now twins?! The highs & lows of my rollercoaster life

For a busy mom, anxiety and gratitude are flip-sides of the same coin.

"For a busy mom, anxiety and gratitude are flip-sides of the same coin."

For a busy mom, anxiety and gratitude are flip-sides of the same coin

American Thanksgiving has this really strange tradition. A sweet, custardy, tinned fruit and marshmallow salad, but instead of taking its rightful place with the cakes and puddings, this dish pairs with meat and potatoes as a main course. Marshmallows and meat?

I feel that way sometimes myself, although my strange combination is high-strung, quivering anxiety, and feelings of deep-rooted joy and gratitude.

Over the last year, with its peaks and valleys, its challenges and rewards, I learned that these seemingly contradictory emotions actually travel well together.

My 2021 started with a troubling timeline. My gynae gave me six months to conceive, before a second pregnancy became too risky for my postpartum body.

After a deadly dance with preeclampsia, birthing my first child, I couldn’t risk going through a “geriatric” pregnancy and all the baggage it carried.

My husband and I decided to have a relaxed December, and to start actively trying to conceive in March, after I’d weaned my little girl.

Well. On January 9 I missed my period, and the next day, a home pregnancy test showed two stark blue lines.

Relief and anxiety. I’m pregnant! But it’s way too early. But I’m pregnant! But we’re not ready. But I’m pregnant!

The rollercoaster had only just begun. A few weeks later, we discovered at our first scan that my extreme fatigue and nausea was because I was pregnant with twins.

Anxiety and gratitude surged through me. How will we cope? I always wanted three children. Twin pregnancies are high risk. The babies are healthy.

In the end, our little girls were born just shy of their goal birthdate, at a hearty 2.3kgs and 2.1kgs, in the middle of a pandemic.

Three months later, life has been intense. I sometimes feel like I’m lunging from feed to feed like Hercules going from the Hydra to the Boar.

The “almost drowning” feeling comes over me with the relentlessness of the routine, and juggling a toddler to boot.

I have only the briefest of moments with no children attached, and being tired is so normal it’s become background noise to my other sensations.

Sometimes I feel like a wad of chewed-up-and-spat-out bubblegum.

But despite that, despite the hardness, despite the feeling of “these days are long”, there is magic.

My toddler kissing a baby and saying, “I love you”, leaping to get a dummy and mimicking me breastfeeding.

A soft baby cheek, thoroughly kissable and as pillowy as a meringue. Baby gurgles and coos – I forgot how unbelievably cute those noises are, how rewarding it is to have a tiny human engage with you.

Smiles and milky breath, the softest heads, sleepy snuggles and the warm, loving feeling of just being covered in these tiny, vulnerable and incredible creatures that I made, somehow, in my own body.

And past them, there is an intense feeling of gratitude for the women supporting our family.

Our nanny, Precious, constantly surprises me with her generosity of spirit, her genuine love for my children, and her open and loving arms.

I don’t know how my husband and I would survive without her. Her kindness, her energy, and her intelligence are the shoelaces on this operation, tying us together, and keeping us sane.

Added to this, we have a wonderful night nanny who helps me survive the 2am feeds, the pre-dawn wake-ups and all the challenges that go with keeping infants happy and well-fed in the midnight hours.

Without these women, I would be like Hercules without his bow and arrows. Defenceless. Struggling. Destined to grapple with the needs of three children under three years old, no moments of peace in sight, not able to meet the sheer volume of need thrown at me.

With their help, I have the time to find the magic, to balance the anxiety with gratitude, and to appreciate what I have.

I can savour the dessert…even if it’s served with the main course.

Samantha Steele

Change expert, Samantha Steele, believes that the big change equals big opportunity.

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