Monday, October 8, 2007

A double blessing

One of my dearest friends in Florida had five children, including two sets of twin boys! The doctor was terrified to tell her about the second set, because she was still suffering major sleep deprivation with the first set. Over the years, though, she and her husband managed parenting all five of their kids with amazing aplomb. I was frequently in awe, even more so when I managed to lose one of the boys myself when taking just two of them on an excursion. Thankfully he turned up very quickly, but nerves remained frayed for quite some time.

All of that came back to me recently when another friend's daughter became the mother of twin boys. Since she's a writer, I'll let her share how that experience is going:

As a new grandmother of twins, I read with interest the postings from women about fielding the when-are-you-going-to-have-a-baby question. I’ve been thinking about the question of timing ever since our daughter phoned last year to tell my husband and me that she was pregnant at the age of 38 thanks to fetal implants. (Most likely, she couldn’t have done it any other way.)

For years, Andrea didn’t want children, so my husband and I assumed we would never be grandparents. That was okay with us. We believed she should make her decision about whether to become a parent without pressure from us. Then she started talking about having a child a couple of years ago, and her mate eventually agreed. (Being a parent hadn’t topped his list of most-desired life experiences.)

The thing about fetal implants is that doctors like to overplant to raise the odds of getting one that’s viable. Andrea had three implants. Two “took.” The woman who wanted one child—and one child only—birthed twins in April of this year. I held one of my newborn grandsons in my arms just minutes after his birth by Ceasarian section while his dad held his baby brother. I stayed with my daughter and son-in-law for six weeks afterwards to help out. The boys have completely stolen my heart.

When my husband and I flew to see them again this summer, I stayed on for another month—again to help out. I will never forget my first few minutes alone with the grandson I held just after his birth. He was semi-reclining in his little swinging chair and looking up at me as I sat in a chair looking down at him. For a time, we simply took in each other with our eyes. (I suppose I was smiling; it’s nearly impossible to look at him without doing that.) Suddenly, he grinned from ear to ear, waved his arms, and kicked his feet in a baby greeting of pure joy. Talk about being blessed!

Actually, everything about these births has been a blessing. My son-in-law, who didn’t think he ever wanted to be a parent, is a fantastic father. The boys are healthy, intelligent, and handsome. Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, is my daughter. I wondered how she would be as a mother since patience wasn’t her forté. In addition, she was used to doing what she wanted whenever she wanted. She is a terrific mom, though. She telecommutes from home so that she can breastfeed and be with the babies even though their dad is the primary caregiver during the day. Most importantly, she and our son-in-law care for them with love, patience, humor, and wisdom that touches me deeply as I watch their parenting skills unfold.

I firmly believe that one of the keys to their impressive parenting skills is that they waited until they were ready. Our daughter is established in her career. Both she and her husband have had a lot of life experience. They are much more mature and self-confident now than they would have been as younger parents. They have a happy, stable relationship and home environment. I don’t doubt that they made a wise decision when they chose not to have a child earlier, especially since the child turned out to be twins.

We live on opposite coasts and plan to move near to them next year. In the meantime, Andrea calls to tell us when one of the boys does something new and sends us pictures via the internet. She delights in her boys and in sharing them with us. Had they never become a part of my life, I would never have missed them. Now that they are, I feel so fortunate, so blessed, and so grateful for the timing.

Carolyn, who can hardly stop smiling when looking at pictures of these amazing boys!

If any of you are the parents or grandparents of twins, please share the joys and stresses of managing life with two babies or toddlers underfoot. Or if you are a twin yourself, tell us what is was like for you growing up as part of a "matched set."

Sherryl Woods

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