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I’m a Certified Mother: How My Three Young Children Gave Me a Second Career

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I was a teacher before I had my first daughter Abby. As much as I enjoyed being an educator, I decided that I wanted to stay at home with our baby—at least for the first few years. My pregnancy with Abby was a first-time-mom’s dream. I was energetic, peppy and productive—and managed to survive the nine months she was in my belly unscathed by nausea, stretch marks and hemorrhoids. After she was born, there was no transitional period of adjustment. After the first few moments of cuddling her, my heart overflowed with love. I relished every day we spent together for a year and a half until I found myself pregnant with identical twin girls—that threatened to divide my once solely-focused attention on Abby. I sensed that instead of the calm and collected stay-at-home mom I had been, my life with three little girls demanding my time and attention was guaranteed to become a much more frantic existence. I was ready for the challenge.

“What do you want to do after the girls are born?” My husband asked me.

“Stay home and take care of them, of course.” I replied.

In my mind there was no other option. I was not ready to return to the Monday through Friday grind of a working outside of the home schedule. I couldn’t imagine leaving my babies with someone else, while I cared for other parent’s children as a teacher. I loved being a stay-at-home mom, and I was okay with the idea that my career was over—or at least on a long hiatus. I know that if I didn’t return to teaching in a timely manner my credentials would expire—and I would have to start over again by getting re-certified.

“Ed, I’m okay with not having a career. Our children are my priority.”

“Yeah,” he nodded. “You can always pick up with teaching or do something else when they leave the nest.”

It was settled.

Then when I was 23 weeks pregnant with the twins we got diagnosed with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, a deadly disease that attacks the placenta of the babies. It was a dire situation, because if it wasn’t medically dealt with immediately we could lose one or both babies. For the next few weeks, the only thought on our minds was our babies’ health and safety. I was consumed over the need to incubate and protect them by keeping them in my belly as long as possible.

An in-utero surgery corrected the Twin to Twin disease, but that then resulted in another complication, when our girls ended up sharing the same placenta and amniotic sac. They were called Mono-Mono twins— the rarest kind. My OB put me on hospital bedrest for continuous monitoring for five weeks, and then I suffered a placental abruption, resulting in the need for an emergency C-section at 30 weeks. The girls, who we had already named Katie and Lauren, were three pounds when they were born and had to spend 38 days in the NICU, while I fretted over their progress and learned how to deep breathe to manage my stress.

After the girls came home from the NICU, it was the busiest time of my life. Between pumping breastmilk, bottle feeding two, changing three little ones in diapers, soothing two babies to sleep, and then trying to potty train Abby, I was a hot mess. I was so exhausted that showering and washing my hair took too much energy, so I often skipped those hygienic rituals. One afternoon during the five o’clock bewitching hour—where my children often cried because they were hungry, exhausted and cranky—I sat on the couch with my three screaming children. I had a revelation: I had to write this down. All of it. Every experience, feeling, and challenge from the past year and a half. I didn’t know how I would find the time to write but I knew I would.

And I did. I wrote during nap times, in the evenings, and on weekends when my husband was home and could watch our crew. It started as scattered journal entries, fragments and incomplete sentences jotted down in a notebook or on my laptop. Slowly over months the words formed complete thoughts, then complete paragraphs. Soon, I had made another decision. I wanted to write a memoir in hopes that it would inspire other women in similar situations. I found an agent, who is on the hunt for a publisher. But as my book started to manifest, I realized how much I loved writing essays that took the reader on a transformative journey, much like my own.

The old adage says “write what you know.” In just a few short years I have had so much life experience that I have a lot to write about. My daughters are my muse. The experience of having all three of them has given me the confidence to pursue my dream of writing.

I feel I am still teaching, but now instead of through a chalkboard, my words flow through the pages of my books, essays and features.

And the only certification I need now, is the one I have—as a mother.

Crystal Duffy lives in Houston with her husband, three little girls and yappy little Yorkie. Her writing has appeared in Twins Magazine, Mamapedia and she is a contributing writer for Twiniversity. She’s currently working on her memoir Twin to Twin which details her high-risk twin pregnancy.

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