Today I have invited my girlfriend, Christina Barnum who I befriended in San Francisco while we attended Academy of Art University. Christina is one of the most generous, compassionate, down to earth people I know and I simply love her to pieces. Christina has come a long way from living in a small apartment in the Haight to becoming a military wife with Twins living in a small town in Texas. Going from being an independent women to being a housewife in a new town can be extremely hard and isolating… I can relate. There were days when I lived in Texas away from my family trying to figure out to be a mother, that I felt extremely alone. I couldn’t find a group around me or online that I could relate to. In sharing Christina’s story, we both hope that someone will read it and not feel so alone in her thoughts, actions and emotions. When I read Xina’s (her nickname) post this morning, it brought tears to my eyes and relief on my soul. Though she and I speak often and share stories about our babies, I didn’t realize that she has “those days” just like I do. And for a moment, I didn’t feel like such a weirdo! Thank you, mama, for sharing your story with us! And to the reader, Enjoy!
“When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was in the ER, in fear that I’d lost my baby (due to bleeding). After an ultrasound, we were told there was not only ONE but TWO healthy heart beats. So, to make a long hospital story short, I went in terrified and left terrified. HAHA! It just seemed surreal. My husband and I had always agreed that twins would be AWESOME, and that it would be so neat to have them… But, we’ve also said that about winning the lottery! Just never thought it would ACTUALLY HAPPEN! And to hear the news was so very exciting, but also scary because we had it all planned out and suddenly our plans had to change.
We now had to buy two cribs, two carseats, two high chairs… you get the picture. We had only planned one of each of these things, not two, and on a military salary, we were not prepared. At the time we found out we were pregnant, we thankfully did have two incomes. I had a job as a preschool teacher & Nick was a Senior Airman in the USAF. However, shortly after we got the news, we moved back to the USA and had lots of other things to worry about, so I said screw work (for now). We needed to find a house, a doctor, cars, etc. Understand, these are standard things you have to do for each military move, but when you’re pregnant (and x2 at that!) it’s all the more stressful.
There were times I broke down and cried from stress. I cried because I was worried we wouldn’t make ends meet. I cried because all I wanted was to be an amazing mommy and I didn’t want to fail them by not making enough money. I worried that my husband would deploy and I’d not only have one but two babies to care for 1,000+ miles away from my family… I know my husband had these worries as well, but he held it together, because I was losing it for the both of us! haha!! BUT, we made it the military way… adapt and over come ;). And thankfully, my husband was not deployed during my pregnancy or after the twins were born.
To save money we did things like take our curtains from our previous home’s large windows and got creative to make them look good on smaller windows. Each pay-day we made a trip to Wal-Mart and bought a box of diapers, a box of wipes, and something else they’d need. And we didn’t worry about future deployments (Well, I put on a pretty good game face, and pretended not to worry – ha!), we enjoyed our ALONE time together, because we knew those moments were going to be few and far between once the babies were born.
Well, now they are here, and life has definitely changed. We were right, those alone moments are few and far between, and we still count down the days to pay-day to go stock up on diapers and wipes… BUT, I have NEVER been happier and I have never had as much fun as I have been being a mommy (x2).
It’s funny, because usually when I have the desire to tell someone all about life with twins, it’s after a rough morning of juggling two teething babies & a household, without a drop caffeine. It’s not that I want to be negative or have a pity party thrown for me, it’s just sometimes I’m so overwhelmed. And once I make it through and conquer a crazy day, I want to call up a friend or post a FB status to gloat. HAHA! But, when Brooke has asked me to write about life with twins, days like those weren’t the first to pop into my head!
Life with twins can be challenging, but it’s also such a joy and blessing. When I sat down to write this, I immediately thought of the fun side to having Twinkies… I thought about watching them shove food in their mouths, while they talk to each other in their language (a high-pitched squeal) or when my son pulls himself up on my daughters exersaucer and she bursts into laughter. I thought about nursing them both on “My Brestfriend” nursing pillow and watching them hold hands while they slept. I thought of the first bath they got to take together, and how excited they were playing. These are moments that just roll right off my tongue (or out of my finger tips? lol), but at one point in my life, I could have never DREAMED of them.
Not all moments are dream-like and full of fluff and sunshine, though. Life with a child is demanding! Life with twins is exhausting! It is a challenge to find a balance at times. There are days when everything seems to go wrong — They wake up from nap early and fussy. My laundry room isn’t even accessible due to the piles of dirty clothes. I’ve run out of formula and need to go to the store. Have I even brushed my teeth? Days like those I want to pull my hair out, scream, and run away. But, after a deep breath and a few baby smiles, I realize that there is NO where else I’d rather be; however, realizing this took some time.
At about 4 months of being a stay at home mom, I was exhausted. My husband was/is away sometimes due to training for the military. We currently live in TX and my family is in VA, so often I didn’t have help. One day, I was walking in the grocery store; My babies were crying, I had my hands full of items, trying to steer a double stroller, when my mom called. I needed her right then, so I stopped what I was doing, set my stuff down, pulled into an empty aisle, and I answered. She said she heard a quote by Steve Jobs and thought me. ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” This really made an impression on me. Because, no matter how tired I was, spending time with my kiddos and watching them grow was most important to me. If I were to die the next day I knew I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else but spending time with them, watching them grow & learn… and scream in the grocery store.;)
There are good days and bad days, crazy days and calm days… but, each of these days I am who I believe I am meant to be; The mommy of Leah and Mason and a VERY proud military wife. We may not have a lot of money, we may have our “hands full” But our life is beautiful. The joy and pride that fills my heart when I look at my children or see my husband in uniform is indescribable. I wouldn’t trade this life for anything!” ~ Christina Ridenhour-Barnum, June 2012