Becoming a Parent: He Said, She Said

family with twins, advice on becoming a parent

What is it like to become a parent? The mom and dad sides of the story from Jeff and Brianne Ducharme on the arrival of their twins, Ella and Zoey.

Becoming a parent: “He said…”

“There’s something else there, but it might just be debris”.

That was from an ER doctor and the first inkling that we might be having twins. Not exactly the Hollywood reveal, but I chuckle now to think either one of our daughters, Ella and/or Zoey, at the time, may have just been considered “debris”!

There were more tests and ultrasounds, and then the confirmation came: we were having twins. Brianne called me at work – we’ll call it a holy *BLEEP* moment.

My personality is to tackle one thing at a time (I’m not a multi-tasker). I prepare for every and all eventualities. After the news settled in and experiencing every emotion from pure joy to pure terror, we set out on preparing for their arrival.

Preparing for twins

We did two main things to financially prepare for the twins. We started by buying diapers and wipes every two weeks, or whenever they were on sale. It helped us better understand on how to budget for kids. We also took Brianne’s paycheques and put them into savings in the months leading up to the twins’ arrival. We wanted to have money for the ‘what ifs?’. Also, it taught us how to manage our money better.

We did all the other things most parents do. The parent-to-be classes, the hospital tour (the girls ended up being born at a different hospital), the baby showers and the shopping for all the “stuff” you need!!!

Young couple, Jeff and Brianne, pregnant with twins

Jeff and Brianne took specific steps to prepare financially for the arrival of their twins which helped them better manage their money.

Brianne was put on bed rest in December, a good five months before her due date. This was tough on her, as she has a go, go, go personality! Her obstetrician had concerns and felt bed rest would be best for her and the babies’ health.

At the time, I was working shift work, so it became a juggling act between making sure Brianne had all she needed for the day, and getting to work on time. As a dude, I will never have a clue about what’s it’s like to be pregnant and what it does to a woman’s body, so having sympathy pains is not realistic. And if I did, I would likely have been crying in the fetal position everyday.

The emotions involved in a high risk pregnancy are real. You worry everyday. And that’s when I had to be there to support Brianne.  It wasn’t always easy, but a hug, a kiss or helping her to get out of bed was all I could do, to make the day better and ease her emotions. To be honest, there were a few times random crying would happen, and I was at a loss. When it did, I just smiled and kissed her forehead.

For the most part, we were prepared for the girls May arrival by February. Thank God we were, because the girls came two months early!

The first six months were a blur; the first two or so were spent in two separate Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU). We survived the back and forth to the hospital, the sleepless nights and dirty diapers.

The emotional, mental, physical and financial toll that twins can have isn’t easy. I remember leaving the hospital and thinking, “I really should have a license for these two!!!”

They’re four now, and as for the license for twins, I still think I should have one!

I often give new parents one piece of advice, whether they are having twins or not.  They are words Brianne and I lived by, and still do.

The sleep deprivation that occurs with a newborn can be tough. So, my advice is:  “Whatever is said to each other in the middle of the night, is to be forgotten by morning.”

Young couple give parenting advice and tips for having twins

Becoming a parent: “She said…”

I can remember it as if it were yesterday; finding out that we were pregnant with not only one, but two little humans. Hearing the news was an amazing surprise, but also emotional because of the year leading up that got us to that point.

You see, we had gone through the emotional roller coaster of getting pregnant; of telling our closest friends and family, only to discover days later that we had miscarried.

What followed was a stressful year of ups and downs; experiencing optimism to utter uncertainty and everything in between. We charted temperatures in the hopes of figuring out the best time to conceive, not to mention numerous negative pregnancy tests.

The feelings that come with trying to conceive are one thing.  Discovering that we managed to conceive and for it to possibly be twins – well, that’s a whole other story.

The day that we found out that we were expecting twins was anything but expected.

I had rushed to the hospital fearing the worst; that I was once again miscarrying.  An unplanned ultrasound had me hearing words that I’ll never forget; “You’re still pregnant, and there’s a possibility of twins.”

I’ll be honest…once I heard the first part of the sentence, that we were still expecting, everything else was secondary.  I remember my heart feeling as if it were about to burst from sheer joy!  Whether there was one or two or ten of them in there, the fact still remained – we were still expecting.

We were told that it might be just one and that another ultrasound would be scheduled to determine whether there were actually two in there, or if they were just seeing ‘debris’ on the lens…um what?  I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand it, but that’s what we were told.

Weeks later, a second look confirmed that our lives would be changing and in more ways that we had anticipated.  My mom came with me for the ultrasound and I don’t know what I was expecting.  All that I was hoping, was that whatever, whoever or however many babies there were in there, that they were healthy.

I remember calling my husband as soon as I got out of the office and telling him that he should sit down, that it’s a good thing that our spare room wasn’t a small one because in a few months it would be home to two little babies.

There was silence on the other end of the line, a big breath and I could almost hear his smile through the phone.  Fear and bewilderment yes, but sheer joy was there too.

I have to be honest when I tell you that the next few months were a bit of a blur. That’s why I started documenting things through my blogs.  It’s honestly the only way that I remember anything.  Pregnancy brain is definitely a real thing, and so is Mommy brain afterwards…something that I don’t think ever fully goes back to what it once was.

I remember the phases of pregnancy; I was only able to hide it for about ten weeks before people started noticing, but in that time it felt very strange to keep it a secret, even though it was something that we were so excited and joyful about.  But, we had learned the hard way the first time around having shared the news early only to be left heartbroken.

And then came the strange sensation of these two little lives growing inside my belly.  I remember feeling a bit like Sigourney Weaver in the movie, ‘Alien’…not in the scary kind of way, but just having something there had never been there before.  That strange feeling very quickly turned into a strong maternal instinct, when your protective ‘mama bear’ emotions develop (and you’ll have them for the rest of your life).

I was put on bed rest early,  (more than four months before my due date, ) due to complications.  It wasn’t easy emotionally or physically.  Not being able to physically do anything isn’t in me, but after the first two weeks it just became normal.  Jeff was always there if I needed him and always reminded me to stay off my feet, and I needed that!

In terms of advice for any expecting twin parents, all I can say is to get ready, early.  We thought we had a ridiculously early baby shower in February (the twins weren’t due until May but we assumed they would arrive in April).  Luckily the nursery and our hospital bags were ready in February because a week after that I went into labour (in March) at 31 weeks pregnant.

The girls have just celebrated their fourth birthdays and I get emotional just thinking of it.  I remember vividly the weeks spent in the NICU, feeding them pumped breast milk through tubes and only being able to hold them at certain times of the day.

In terms of advice for any expecting twin parents, all I can say is to get ready, early.

I remember pulling over a few times on the way home from the hospital just to check on them, to make sure they were okay in their tiny carseats that looked huge for them.

I remember many sleepless nights and actually crying over spilled milk…pumped breast milk that had been knocked off the table…I’m convinced that’s where the saying came from.

It’s definitely not easy. Being a parent isn’t something that you can ever prepare for; no matter how many books you read, nieces and nephews you have or numerous pieces of advice from friends and family.  No two kids are the same, not even identical twins.

Young family with twins advice for becoming a parent

Time flies. Ella and Zoey are now four years old! “No two kids are the same, not even identical twins,” said Brianne.

You live and you learn through trial and error.  In just a moment they become the most important things in your life. and will remain that to you for the rest of your lives.  As much as they infuriate you by flexing their muscle and developing their personalities, you will drop everything for them in a heartbeat and bend over backwards to give them the best of life.

So new parents, take a deep breath and remember that no matter how difficult it may seem at times, the universe wouldn’t give you something that you can’t handle, this too shall pass and time will most definitely fly by, so try your best to enjoy every moment.

Jeff and Brianne Ducharme

Jeff and Brianne not only have a love for each other and their four year old twin daughters, Zoey and Ella, but it was their love of journalism that brought them together almost ten years ago. They met on the job while working for different news channels; he as a cameraman, she as a videographer. They dated for three years before saying, "I do". Their little family includes their identical twin daughters and their golden retriever, Doug.

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