written & photographed by Nicole Crawford of Nicole Bates Photography
feature photos by Michael Koch Photo
The journey into motherhood for the first time is something I wish we could better prepare for. It’s something we think we’re preparing for, but in reality, we have no idea how much our life is going to change. Becoming a mother is easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Of course, pregnancy is a challenging season in itself, and labor feels like a season on its own. But the season you truly step into being a mother is like no other. You are overwhelmed, overjoyed, emotional, recovering, learning, loving, and becoming something new. Truly, the “old you” is gone and you are navigating what it means to have someone completely rely on you. Or in my case, have two someone’s rely on you!
Being pregnant during a pandemic meant that I went to my appointments alone. Which means I found out I was having twins alone. Luckily, I recorded the ultrasound and was able to show my husband. He thought I paid the nurse to say there were two. Once I was further along in my pregnancy, we learned that one of our boys had intrauterine growth restriction and I would need to be induced. This meant that we had to prepare for different scenarios that could unfold, considering there were two babies coming early and our local hospital didn’t have a NICU.
Only one of our boys spent significant time in the NICU, which meant one of us was with one baby and the other was with the other baby and we weren’t all together for about three weeks. At the time this seemed like an eternity, but in reality we were so lucky to have been there for such a short time. Even still, it was the hardest three weeks of our lives. My main fear during pregnancy had come true — my babies were separated from each other and at times from me as well as their father. I knew there was a possibility of this happening, but I still didn’t feel prepared.
“Nothing seemed easier than going home, and while it was easier in the sense of being in our own space and having both boys in one place, this is when I felt the full reality of being a mom.”
At the time, nothing seemed easier than going home, and while it was easier in the sense of being in our own space and having both boys in one place, this is when I felt the full reality of being a mom. What was I supposed to do with these two tiny humans all day? How was I supposed to move from room to room with two infants? Who gets to eat first if they are both hungry? How do I feed them both at the same time (a story for another time)?
I was exhausted and recovering from the trauma I felt I had just been through from delivering two babies and our time in the NICU. It felt like my life had been literally turned upside down. It seemed like nothing else in the world existed besides them. All the while, my photography business was still running, and in fact, growing. The twins arrived in November, which thankfully led right into my off season, but I was also working for a local event space at the time. How I kept my head above water for as long as I did is beyond me.
I eventually realized my mental health was suffering because I was being stretched too thin. It took a while for me to accept that in order to be the best mother I could to my children, I needed to let something go. So, I took the leap and went full time with my photography business. Talk about a new season! There was definitely a learning curve to owning a business and being a full time mom at the same time. Today, it means working during naps and after bedtime. It means missing Summer Saturdays as a family. But it also allows me to be present for so much of their first years of life. It makes me so happy that I can be passionate about my job and show the boys that they can do anything they put their hearts and minds to.
I wish I could give other new mamas all the insight and answers so that they felt more prepared. But the truth is that every birth story is different and every baby is different. Different things will work for different families. And once you think you’ve figured out what works for yours, what worked before changes. Their needs change. It’s a season of so much love and baby giggles and as many snuggles as you can get before they no longer want to cuddle up. It’s a season of hard work and selflessness. A season of chasing babies in every direction. A season that will allow you to learn so much about yourself, as I did.
I always tell people that having twins is wild, but it’s honestly the sweetest season I’ve ever been in.
Nicole Crawford, the owner of Nicole Bates Photography, is a passionate portrait and wedding photographer based in Saint Joseph, Michigan. Through the practice of total presence with her clients, Nicole prides herself in documenting real, raw moments. Nothing makes her happier than documenting your love story. When she is not behind the camera, you might find her practicing yoga, drinking too much coffee, or hanging out with her husband, twin boys and fur-babies.