In my twenties, I watched a lot of my friends and siblings have babies so I got a lot of practice with caring for babies. These days, I think back fondly to some of those memories. Taking my nieces for outings to the zoo or the movies and spoiling them rotten. Babysitting my twin nieces and giving them baths. There’s one memory in particular that stands out to me. One of my dear friends and I decided to take her babies to the mall one day. It was her first outing with her stroller. We got it out and pushed it around the mall with no issues. No issues that is, until, we got ready to leave. We were successfully able to take the baby out and get him in his car seat, unload our bags, and empty out the stroller. The issue came when we tried to fold it back down to it’s original state. Try as we might, we just weren’t able to do it. I remember the laughter we shared as we crammed it in it’s full, not-compact state into the back of her Tahoe and driving away feeling like everyone was staring at these two dumb girls who can’t even figure out how to fold down a stroller.
Since getting pregnant last summer and having the babies in January, I’ve learned a lot. I can change four babies at 3 AM, groggy eyed, and half asleep after just going to bed a few hours earlier and usually get it right. (In the beginning, there were times we’d wake up at 6 AM and I’d have a new diaper just put on over the old diaper. Yeah, I know. Bad mommy!) I know that I’m blessed with four amazing little miracles for a reason, but I can’t help but think about the things I don’t know.
I don’t know a normal pregnancy or what it’s like to carry a baby for nine months. From the start, we saw our babies on an ultrasound for every single doctor visit. I hear this is not normal and that in fact, you may only get to see your baby on an ultrasound once or twice during the entire pregnancy. I can’t imagine. I always looked forward to going to the doctor so I could see my little nuggets growing and moving inside of me. My entire pregnancy felt rushed because I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry them to full term (even though I thought I’d go longer than I did).
I don’t know what it’s like to carry a baby for nine months. It was hard to see my pregnancy end at just 28 weeks and 5 days. Go to the hospital, have a baby, and walk out three days later? What’s that? On the day I checked out of the hospital, I just went downstairs to the 8th floor NICU to love on my babies. When I had to leave to go on about my life, I felt sad knowing my little miracles were being looked after by nurses and not me.
I don’t know what it feels like to take care of one baby. For me, everything is times four. Four outfits a day, four baths a night, four bottles at a time. Tummy time times four. Four times the snuggles and love though too! I have no concept of what it is like for mothers raising one baby at a time. A few days ago, I watched a mom and someone who appeared to be a grandmother unloading a baby from their car. They seemed to be able to take forever and in no rush at all. For us, unloading babies from the car in a perfectly timed event. Everyone knows their role and even when executed properly, I’ve usually broken a sweat by the time we are done.
While I’ve written in the past about how strange it is for people to ask us so many questions when they see us about what life is like for us, it hasn’t really occurred to me until now, that maybe there’s a side of motherhood that’s completely foreign to me. Regardless of whether you’re raising one baby at a time or ten babies at a time, the common denominator is we’re all mommies! One baby or fifty babies, we definitely all go through some of the same struggles, just in different ways.