Poems & Essays

24 Aug

When I Tell Strangers I Have Twins

Babyhood One Response

They sigh, shake their heads, say,
 “I don’t think I could do it.” I wonder 
which one they’d sell, as though twins 

was a choice I made knowing my parental
skills beforehand, knowing at conception 
I could breastfeed two babies at one time 

in the middle of my bed, their weight evened
out on a boppy while I held them each like 
a football—stopping in the middle of a feeding 

to change a diaper, while the other, still 
latched on, turned his head to watch me 
wipe his brother clean. Or how I knew 

I could continue when, in the first two 
months, there were nights I only slept 
forty-five minutes between rocking 

and changing and feeding one and then
another back and forth until it blurred 
together into a nightmare thought up 

in a Twilight Zone episode. It’s amazing 
what can be done when babies cry 
continuously. When I went outside 

to push them in their stroller, the leaves 
wouldn’t hold their shape. They fluttered 
with fuzzy edges in a parade of orange 

and red and yellow, the weight of sleep-
lessness a heavy quilt on a cold night—
wrapped round me until I realized I’m not 

asleep but walking and walking and 
praying they wouldn’t wake. I explain 
to those strangers so adamant of their 

inability, that I had little choice, except 
for how I handle the situation and 
sometimes it’s not well. Sometimes 

it’s locking myself away in another room 
until my own crying stops. Other days 
I call my mother, shake my head, and say, 

“If it were just one baby, it would be so 
easy.” She replies, “Oh, but what joy 
the second will bring.” I cry, “I don’t think 

I can do this.” She says, “You already have.”

Dana Salvador’s work has been featured in the Prairie Schooner, descant (forthcoming), North American Review, Literary Mama, Water~Stone Review, Red Rock Review, and North Dakota Quarterly, among others. Additionally, she is the recipient of a Vogelstein Foundation Grant and the recipient of the 2016 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award.

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2 Comments

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  1. Mirle

    August 29, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    This is beautiful. I didn’t choose for you to have twins but I had to participate in the excitement on a ramp, jumping up and down, we are having twins! and those days when you slept under the desk and I held you, my giant friend in early Summer with arms that could not wrap around and then the one baby I stayed with at the hospital who yelled in horror when I visited him just a few months later and you reclining on my bed, a wildlife documentary, momma with two tetas out breastfeeding her offsprings and the fear ¡cuidado! when they ran around, climbed on roofs, went down ramps at 200 miles per hour, and sitting with you at lunchtime with you grey sweater covered in mil stains and maybe baby mocos. Yes, you have been amazing, great job momma.

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