I was a little apprehensive about writing this because I know that many parents have different experiences, but I also saw this as an opportunity to reflect a little on everything that took place around the time my two twin girls were born while we were in season last February (2015). When I started thinking about it, I was really reminded me how much chaos there was, but also how quickly it actually went by and how much about that experience I don’t want to forget.
Before the girls were born, my wife, Erin, and I were given a date when she was to be induced, since she was delivering twins. Well as a coach, I thought that was great because I could make sure I was organized and everything would go as planned… Nope! The day before our first game of the season we were told she would be induced that morning. Great, I thought, I will be back on campus for the game the next day and everything will be back to normal. Well that certainly did not happen. We did not get the call to come in due to an emergency at hospital, so it was postponed until the next day… game day. At the time I was still thinking, “great, she’ll pop the kids out, we’ll hang out, and I will still get back by 3pm for the game.”
It didn’t take long for me to change my mind. Not because she was in labor ALL day, but because the closer we got to delivery, the more I didn’t want to miss anything that happened at the hospital. The neat thing, which was certainly bittersweet, was watching the webcast of my team playing while I was in the hospital room with my wife and in-laws (that part was ok), but yelling at the iPad is not effective! The hardest part was the fact that I have never, in all my years of coaching, missed a practice or a game, and now I just missed both and it was the season opener. I will say that having a very good assistant coach made it easier. My Athletic Director, who has three kids, was very supportive and told me, “things will be fine here. Do what you need to, for as long as you need to.” It was reassuring to have your boss, who has been through it before, give you the green light. And things were fine, and all turned out well. We won the game, and soon afterwards, they were moving us into the room where they would induce Erin into labor.
It was amazing how quickly my priorities changed. Almost instantly, Amelia was delivered first and I was holding her very soon after. Addyson had some minor complications and was taken to NICU. It was one of the scariest things I have ever been through. I was literally holding one baby and watching the nurses carry the other past me to start hooking her up to monitors and oxygen. The good news is after one week we had them both home.
But… while having only one daughter at home, I got a little arrogant and thought this parenting thing was hard, but not that hard. My in-laws were helping out during the day while we took turns going to see Addyson in NICU. At night, Erin and I took turns getting up, which I thought was tiring, but it didn’t seem to affect me or my wife too much. And then there were two newborns at home. This is the part I really have to think about because most of it is a blur, and I wish I was kidding. What I thought was going to be difficult, turned into swimming in the area of “almost impossible.” They were on different schedules for what seemed like forever. I was literally going to work after only getting 2-3 hours of sleep for a solid month and a half before the routine got a little better. My wife was obviously on maternity leave, but my team was in season, and as you all know there really are not many days you can just take off or sleep in. Looking back at that, it was hard but certainly a very memorable experience that I would never trade. But as those with kids know, you come home from work and there’s no time to relax.
One thing that really stuck with me prior to having the twins was something a coach said to me. She said to me, “It’s not the same for the dad typically; it shouldn’t affect you and your time as much.” I honestly really looked at that as a challenge. I didn’t want it to be like that, and really tried to make that a goal and make sure it was the same.
I think from the coaching and team perspective, having the twins really helped pull the team together in a unique way. They were extremely helpful, thoughtful, and understanding. I think that seeing me around my kids maybe showed them that I actually am a human and not just their coach on the field, who’s always thinking about lacrosse. In all seriousness, they were able to see a side that they may never have seen, and I was able to see a different side of them as well. So with that, it has affected me as a coach, but in a positive way. I think the team feels they were a part of the experience and it was a good experience that wasn’t just about Lacrosse. I didn’t know it at the time, but looking at it now, having kids will affect your team in some way. In most cases, positively, if you do it right.
So 11 months later… I still come home (so you know it’s not all bad) around 6 pm if I’m lucky, and it’s usually my time with them to play and get them ready for baths, bottle and bed. Then the fun really starts: I wash 4,000 bottles, and not just any bottles… my wife had to get the bottles with 5 individual pieces to each one, so I have “tools” to clean these things. But all that is worth it, and when Erin and I finally finish eating and sit down at night, we usually have some time to talk about the kids and all the funny things they did, or pictures or video we took that day. More frequently we stare blankly at the TV for 30 minutes before we realize we are watching the “Mickey Mouse Club House” cartoon and the kids are not even awake. Life has changed! Things that I could not predict changed. Everyone says it, nobody believes it. I didn’t. I do now! And it’s all been a great experience.
I half jokingly say that having twin girls is Karma’s revenge, since I am coaching women. I obviously see how young women are at the college age, and it scares me even more. But I guess this is training for their teenage years. And in reality, I am certainly looking forward to it, and am very glad that my kids will have the opportunity to grow up around this team (and future teams) and will have that interaction and maybe even mentors or role models as they grow up.