Moms of multiples: Twins present twice the challenges, twice the special moments
FARGO – Dylan and Isaac Anderson proudly call each other “buddy dudes.”
They ride their bikes together, share bunk beds and dress up as superheroes.
And since April, the brothers have also learned to play with their siblings – 16-week-old twins Jordyn and Carter.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d have two sets of twins by 27,” says mom Katie Anderson, of Fargo.
Katie, who conceived naturally, found out she was pregnant with Dylan and Isaac two days before her wedding to husband Collin Anderson. The news was shocking, she says, and hearing it a second time last year at her ultrasound was equally as surprising.
In the U.S., the rate of twins is 33 per 1,000 live births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The odds of bearing two sets of twins are even rarer – some experts estimate as uncommon as one in 700,000.
“My doctor told me that I’m part of a very small group of women in the U.S. that just has twins for most of their pregnancies,” Katie says.
If she were to get pregnant a third time, her chance of having twins is very high. But, the 27-year-old mom says she already has her hands full.
‘A more effective mom’
On a typical weekday morning, stay-at-home-mom Katie wakes up between 6 and 7 a.m. to make breakfast for the 4-year-old twins. An hour later, the babies are ready for their morning meal, too, but by then, nanny Jessica Krick has arrived to help.
Katie and her husband hired a nanny since Collin travels for his job in the trucking and transportation industry and is often only home on weekends.
Katie knew that outings like doctor’s appointments would be challenging on her own. Grocery shopping, for example, requires her to push two carts – one for groceries, one with the babies in it.
The Andersons budget their income so they can afford to hire Jessica, a Minnesota State University Moorhead student. In the fall, she’ll only work 10 to 15 hours since the 4-year-olds will be at pre-school part-time.
“You live on a budget. You have to,” Katie says. “It is hard because there are times when you want to go outside of that budget but you really have to stick within that so you can continue to function.”
Jessica and Katie work as a team. Katie describes it as “like having my husband here during the week. She’s filling in for him, in a sense.”
Whether it’s folding laundry, washing dishes, taking the older twins to the park or putting the babies down for naps, Jessica and Katie split tasks 50-50. But parenting is solely Katie’s responsibility.
“That’s not my job. I’m just here to do the things she doesn’t have time for,” Jessica says. “I do dishes so she can read books to the kids before naptime. I fold laundry so she can run errands. It’s more of a support role.”
“She’s someone who helps me be a more effective mom,” Katie adds.
With Jessica’s assistance, Katie’s been able to spend more time alone with the 4-year-old twins, and she’s noticed that they aren’t seeking attention as much as when the babies were first born.
“They can feel jealous, so I try to do little things that make them feel like they’re getting equal attention,” she says.
She’s also able to take better care of herself now that Jessica can watch the babies when the older boys nap. She goes to the gym three times a week and tries to cook meals from scratch as much as possible.
Katie admits, though, that she and her husband don’t spend as much time together as they’d like. But they have developed a “checking-in” ritual.
“When we have five or 10 minutes alone, we call it checking in. It’s just ‘Hi, how are you?’ kind of talk,” she says. “Even if it’s the fast version, it’s still five or 10 minutes when you, even though you probably should be doing other things, check in with each other.”
Her goal is to schedule date nights once the babies are a little older.
“Even if it’s not spontaneous like maybe it was before you had kids, it’s important,” she says. “You’re concerned about the kids all the time and you forget to focus on each other.”
Chaos and calm
Kit Anderson, a mom to 3-year-old fraternal twins, relates to Katie’s challenges as a mom of multiples.
The 38-year-old Moorhead woman’s husband has also been away from home for work all summer so she’s learned to juggle caring for twins Marina and Robert and her 1-year-old toddler, AJ.
“Simple tasks become challenging, like going to the grocery store. You might cry. It can take two hours. We’ve had a few good grocery store trips, though. But it’s easier to do it when they’re not with you,” says Kit Anderson, who is not related to Katie Anderson.
Her children attend daycare part-time in the summer so Kit, a teacher with West Fargo Public Schools, can concentrate on her direct sales business and run errands. The women she’s met through her business have helped her feel “like herself” again, she says.
“I need to have something. Doing this side business has been fun, and I feel like I’m part of a team,” Kit says.
She misses being able to wake up and go for a run if she wants to, though, and rarely gets more than six hours of sleep.
“It’s basically just really crazy,” she says. “I’ve never been so late or had to cancel so many appointments.”
Now, she looks forward Monday nights because it’s family night at McDonald’s. The kids play, and Kit’s able to relax a little.
“I never thought that’d be the highlight of my weeks,” she says, laughing.
But, the chaos is worth the loving moments she witnesses between her twins, like when Marina wanted to read to Robert.
“They have built-in best friends. I want them to realize how lucky they are,” she says.
Kit and her husband plan to have more children eventually, while Katie says her family is complete.
Katie intends to go back to school for a master’s degree once the newborn twins are toddlers, but for now, she’s happy being a stay-at-home mom of multiples.
“In the beginning, there were moments of ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this, this is a lot,’ ” she says. “But now, I’m able to spend more time with the kids and notice the sweet things they do. When the boys lay down by the babies if they’re crying and try to make them smile – it’s about that.”