What They Don’t Tell You About Having Twins: Life With Multiples Gets Easier As You Go Along
Jemia Storey has wanted a family for as long as I’ve known her. We met back in college at Hampton University (#PiratePride), and one of the things that drew me to her was how creative, sweet, and positive she was. She has always gone above and beyond for her family and friends. Fast forward several years later, and Jemia is currently a mother of four! The freelance graphic designer has three biological children with her husband—a three-year-old boy, and 9-month-old twin girls, as well as a stepson, whom she lovingly refers to as her “bonus son.”
Shortly after giving birth to her oldest son, Jemia talked about how she wanted to have at least two more children, but then her health took a scary turn. She suffered from a rare condition known as ovarian torsion, which led to her right Fallopian tube being removed, and questions about whether she would get to have the future children she always wanted.
Jemia, with support from her husband and family, held on to her faith, and just a few months after surgery discovered she was pregnant with twins. Lola and Langstyn, also known as #TwinStoreys, made their debut on 9/19/18, at almost 37 weeks [full term for twins is 38 weeks]. Since then, Jemia has been documenting life as a mom of multiples — and a family of six — on social media via @TwinStoreys. Meanwhile, I’m over here with one toddler wondering how to get through.
I enjoy watching Jemia’s mom life unfold so I hit up the Alabama-based AKA to discuss her journey through her health issues, what it’s like to be a twin mom, and juggling a big family.
MadameNoire (MN): You’re pretty open about your family and your love of being a mother, but I remember you having something scary happen with your health while you were preparing to expand your family. What happened?
Jemia Storey (JS): On October 17, 2017, at around 12:30am, I started having extremely severe pain in my lower back and groin area, on my right side. It was much worse pain than the 68 hours that I was in labor with my son. I tried to tough it out by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever and using a heating pad. No luck. By 2:30am my husband was speeding to the nearest and unfamiliar hospital, with our [then] 2-year-old in tow. The pain was absolutely excruciating. I started to fear that my life may be on the line. We get to the ER, pain medicine did not help, and after multiple tests, X-rays, scans, and ultrasounds, the ER doctor finally confirmed that I was experiencing an ovarian torsion. My right fallopian tube had become twisted. This randomly happens and there is no real explanation as to why. It cut off the circulation to my ovary, and my ovary was dying or already dead. I was told that I would have to have an emergency surgery under the care of an obstetrician I had never met. I was uneasy but reminded myself of my faith. Shortly after noon, my husband and little boy kissed me and I was rolled into the operating room. I could sense the fear in my husband’s eyes and his forced smile. He was nervous. The laparoscopic procedure took an hour or two and I remember waking up in recovery. Everything went well and it was time time to start the healing process.
MN: Did you think you’d never be able to have children again at that time? I know your plan then was to have at least two more so what was that feeling like? Did you ever consider adoption if things didn’t work out?
JS: My heart sank. Would I be able to have more children? God promised me a daughter and I believed him. Could I be ok with only birthing one child? The on-call OB reassured me that he was pretty positive that my left ovary and fallopian tube would be fine. I had faith that I would be able to have another baby. I’ve honestly never thought about adoption too much. I have nothing against it, my mother was adopted, but it never truly crossed my mind as something I’d ever have to consider. I always believed that God would bless me with the three children that I always prayed for.
MN: Describe what it felt like to go from not feeling like you weren’t sure if you’d ever have kids again to learning you were pregnant with twins.
JS: Shortly after my surgery, I had an appointment with my actual obstetrician. She was shocked to hear about all that I’d been through. We talked about my age [35 at the time] and that my husband and I needed to seize the moment. No more waiting for a “perfect” time to have a baby. With one ovary remaining and I wasn’t getting any younger, it was go time. It didn’t take long, for us to conceive. It happened three months after the emergency surgery. I couldn’t believe it, I was pregnant again. I was nine weeks pregnant at my very first prenatal appointment. I can still remember the shock and giddiness that I felt when the ultrasound specialist said, “There are two babies in there!” Going from an ovary and a fallopian tube being removed to pregnant with twins, in three short months, still amazes me.
MN: Your babies were in the NICU, right? I know the stress levels must have been off the chain!
JS: Lola was in the NICU for three days. On the same day that she was being discharged from the NICU, Langstyn was being admitted. That was one of the hardest days of my life. Langstyn was in the NICU for six days. The girls were admitted due to having lower than normal temps. I was still able to hold and nurse both babies around the clock. Nursing two babies in two different locations of the hospital, all while healing from a cesarean was one of the most strenuous things I’ve ever had to do, but I pushed through the pain and exhaustion and did what I had to do for my babies. I would say that it is fairly common for multiples to end up in the NICU.
MN: How was your recovery, especially with a toddler at home, and a stepson?
JS: Recovery after having the twins wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I had experienced a vaginal delivery first, and now a cesarean. I most definitely preferred the healing process after a vaginal delivery. Healing after carrying two babies and tending to a surgical incision was a lot. I look back at that time, nine months ago), and I’m not exactly sure how I made it. Moms do what we have to do for our babies. Even if it means pushing through the pain and exhausting ourselves without complaint.
MN: How are your twins doing now?
JS: Lola and Langstyn are doing beautifully! They have so much personality and they are hitting milestones as any other baby would. They are almost complete opposites. I embrace the fact that they are fraternal twins and that they are truly their own person. Lola is our “baby baby.” She’s super sweet, loves to snuggle, has no teeth and is in no rush to crawl, pull up or walk. Langstyn is our “Busy Bee.” She is bursting with energy, is always on the move, has three teeth and she’s crawling, pulling up and will probably walk really soon.
MN: How have your other children adjusted to having two new babies to accommodate?
JS: My 10-year-old bonus son, Aiden, loves his little sisters. He’s protective of them and has already chosen a “favorite” sister. Hampton, my three-year-old, loves being my big helper. Diaper duty [throwing away dirty diapers], getting me diapers and wipes, helping with burping the girls, etc. He loves his sisters so much, but on occasion, my husband and I do notice that he feels the need to fight for our attention. But that’s normal for his age.
MN: How do you cope with having a big family? What do you do to get some time to yourself?
JS: Being a family of six has been quite an adjustment, but I believe we’re doing a great job and taking it all in stride. We literally take it one day at a time. Some days are awesome and other days are chaotic, but I wouldn’t change a single thing. My four babies mean the world to me. In the first year of raising twins and a toddler, on a daily basis, there’s not a lot of “me time” for myself. It’s the little things that count at this moment. A long hot bath after bedtime, sneaking away to see a movie alone, going to get a mani/pedi with a friend, and having a supportive spouse that makes sure I get time to myself is a beautiful blessing. My husband is an amazing father and he loves to jump right in there with the kids. Outside of nursing, there’s no task that I do that he won’t do, and I am beyond grateful for that.
MN: What advice do you have for other twin moms, especially those who may have other children in the house?
JS: This is a loaded question! Whew chile! First and foremost, give yourself grace. Be gentle with yourself. Caring for one baby is tough. Caring for two or more at a time can leave you speechless [but] you figure it out and you make it happen. You learn to ignore counterproductive commentary from others and you learn to embrace words of encouragement from those that love you. Some days, those words will be the only thing that will get you through. I’ve had so many twin moms come up to me and say, “Hang in there Mama, it gets easier.” And each time I hear it, I believe it more and more. And they are right. As the days have rolled on, it gets a little easier and I’m confident in the twin mom that I am becoming. Being a mom and connecting with other moms is always great. But connecting with other moms of multiples is truly special. It’s always comforting knowing that someone else really gets it. It’s a lot on my plate, but I wouldn’t change one single thing.
As for your other children, keep them included in the love and care of the twins. My toddler basks in the fact that he helps me with so much. But I also stress having one on one time with that child. To keep down attention seeking, be it good or bad, give the other child your time whenever you can. They are watching you constantly and dealing with a threatened or jealous child is no fun. I wasn’t sure how I would do it, but there’s plenty of room in my heart for all four of my children to feel loved.
Be patient as you learn your way, get all of your children on a good routine, especially the twins, and like I said earlier, be gentle with yourself.
Keep up with Jemia’s adventures in motherhood @TwinStoreys.