About two weeks after we brought our newborn twins home from the hospital, I called my sister Meg — a mother of two — in tears because I couldn’t get my son to finish a bottle without spitting most of it up. I was running on empty and I needed some advice… or even just a sliver of encouragement.
She told me about a conversation she had with another twin mom, who told her, “Being a mother of newborn twins is like being a Navy SEAL.”
Before I became a mom, I might have thought that was a bit of an exaggeration. Now, I think that she may have been sugar-coating it. Being a mom of twins is far more challenging and exhausting than I ever imagined it would be.
“You’re in the bunker right now,” Meg’s friend said, and she was absolutely right.
I realized that I had to adjust my expectations, recruit more help than I had anticipated, and get into survival mode.
I knew that things were eventually going to get easier — or at least more manageable — but in the meantime, I had to find a way to survive. For us, that meant hiring nurses to help with the babies at night and give us much-needed pointers on how to feed and burp them. It meant having to buy pre-made meals, something that I rarely did in my life before kids (when I even made my own salad dressing). It meant that when I actually did get around to doing laundry, it wasn’t going to be folded. And it meant that as long as the babies were taken care of, other less important things would have to go on the back burner. Having one baby (never mind two) is a huge undertaking that forces people like me who like things to be planned and organized to make some serious adjustments.
It reminded me of an interview that Anthony Guerra did earlier this year with Tom Ciccarelli, CIO of East Orange General Hospital. Ciccarelli compared implementing an electronic record to having a baby. “It starts out with anticipation and beautiful nights and planning and all the wonderful things associated with having a baby,” he said. “Then the baby is born. And he poops in his pants, and he keeps you up all night.”
When I first read that back in February, I remember thinking, “If CIOs know how difficult it’s going to be to implement an EMR, why don’t they plan better? Why don’t they try to anticipate all of the issues that might arise?”
I now realize that it simply isn’t possible to do that — just as it wasn’t possible for me to know that my babies would come seven weeks early, and to anticipate all of the challenges that go along with having preemies.
Ciccarelli was absolutely right. Being a parent is nothing like what I expected. At any given point during the day, I’m exhausted, starving, and knee-deep in laundry. My once pristine kitchen has been taken over by cans of formula, bottle drying racks, and bottle brushes — and I couldn’t care less. My priorities have shifted dramatically. I never knew how much relief I would get from a baby performing a bodily function, and how much joy I would get from their smiles.
Right now, it isn’t about having a clean house, making dinner from scratch, or wearing clothes that match. It’s about making sure the babies are cared for, Dan and I have something to eat, and the bills are paid. Right now, we’re in survival mode.
The advice Ciccarelli always gives to those planning — or in the midst of — a major installation or upgrade is: “Tough out it. You’ll survive. You’ll be fine.”
To me, that means when you’re in the bunker, you do whatever it takes to get through each day.