In the fall of 1978, when Marie Arcaro learned she was pregnant, she and her husband, Bob, were eager to prepare for their bundle of joy.
The young couple enrolled in Lamaze classes and Marie began the usual battery of exams and appointments. Her doctors weren't concerned when she gained a substantial amount of weight; they figured she had miscalculated the conception date or that slim-framed Marie was carrying a very large baby. Seven months later, after a full-body X-ray (ultrasound wasn't common practice in those days), the couple got some unexpected news: Marie was having twins.
"When I first found out, I was hysterical," says Marie, now 57 and living with Bob in Cream Ridge, N.J. "My husband was a lot calmer and better about it than I was." After twins Michael and Mark were born, Marie realized she felt more blessed than overwhelmed. Here, she shares some lessons she learned from her unexpected twist of fate.
- Trust your instincts. "Despite eating very healthy during my pregnancy, I gained seven pounds a month, and looking back on it, it was a really difficult time," she says. "I should have complained more about my discomfort to my doctors-maybe they would have investigated further."
- Use your resources. "My support system of friends and family helped me so much," Marie says. "And a nurses' association offered a few free home visits filled with advice after we brought the babies home. These days there also are support groups and clubs for mothers of twins."
- Think outside the box. "The challenge with twins is having enough hands to feed and hold them. So, Bob and I would get creative and put them in swings so we could eat," she says.
- Make time for your partner. "My mother took the initiative instead of me [and babysat] so I could take time for my relationship with my husband, who was a trucker at the time and working so many hours," Marie says.
- Allow your kids to be self-sufficient. "At 9 months old, Mike and Mark fed themselves with spoons. They got used to taking care of themselves at a young age and this helped them focus as adults-they both became doctors!"