May we meet you?
I’m Kayla Levon Eubanks from Atlanta, Georgia. I lived there most of my life, and my family still lives there. I currently live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. My husband is from there, and we moved there when my husband got an offer to get his Ph.D. from the University of Alabama. The twins were born in Tuscaloosa. I’m a full-time graduate student. I’m working on my master’s degree in Special Education. I’ve worked as a special education teacher for kids of all disabilities up to age 10. At my last job, before the twins were born, I was a preschool teacher for children with autism. I loved my job and I hope to return to it someday, but for now, I decided to stay home with my babies while I finish my degree and I am also a mom blogger.
Are the twins your first?
Yes, the twins are my first children. My husband and I got married back in August 2014. We decided in early 2016 that we were ready to try for a baby. Little did we know God had more in store and blessed us twice! We always planned to have two children, and we ended up getting them both at once, so we don’t have any current plans to have any more children.
What was your reaction when you found out you were having twins?
I bawled! We went into my 8-week ultrasound and I was just hoping and praying that my baby was okay. I was terrified of having a miscarriage, and I just wanted to see my baby’s heartbeat. The ultrasound tech found the heartbeat, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then she told me that there was a second heartbeat! I just started crying my eyes out. She asked if they were tears of joy or sadness and I said “both!” I was so unprepared. I immediately started thinking “Oh my goodness, we can’t afford twins. We don’t have the space for twins.” My husband just stared at the screen and grinned. After we left, we just sat in the parking lot in disbelief.
Who was the first person you told?
The first people I told about my pregnancy were my parents. However, the first person I told that there were two was my mom. I called her and told her to make sure she was sitting down. She screamed so loud. She had always wanted twins.
Tell us about your pregnancy, which trimester would you say was the hardest?
The first trimester was definitely the toughest. I had bad morning sickness and was very sensitive to smells. I couldn’t eat much and generally couldn’t eat anything until I got off work at about 4 PM. Plus, I worked with small children, and they ate lunch around me. My stomach was so weak, it was a struggle just sitting with them at lunch! But thankfully that improved around 13 weeks. My second trimester wasn’t bad, but that’s when I found out that I had a complication and my pregnancy became high risk, so from there I had a lot more doctor’s visits. My third trimester was just bad because I had very bad heartburn. I couldn’t even lie down to sleep at night. Sure enough, the twins had heads full of hair!
Did you had any weird pregnancy cravings?
Yes! I craved snow! Like the kind that falls from the sky. I loved the texture and the coldness. It doesn’t snow much in Alabama, so I used to put ice in my food processor until it was powdery like snow and I ate it every single day until they were born.
What did you struggle with the most during pregnancy?
Fatigue and weight gain. I was in great shape before my pregnancy and always thought I’d be one of those moms who worked out her whole pregnancy, but that wasn’t the case. I was just so exhausted all the time. I gained about 40 pounds and it was difficult for me. I felt like I was in another person’s body.
What do you think every woman needs to know before getting pregnant?
You won’t be perfect. As hard as you try, as much as you read, as much advice as you get, you’ll make mistakes. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Trust your intuition. You can do it, even if you don’t believe you can.
Tell us about your labor room experience…
Since Nathan (my twin B) was underweight, I had a scheduled c-section at 34 weeks. It was planned for 5:30 AM, but I had to wait for another twin mom to give birth before they would do my delivery, so I ended up waiting for several hours. They took me back to the operating room and my husband, James, came with me and sat by my side. They gave me a spinal block and numbed me from the belly down. My blood pressure dropped, and I got really nauseous and sick, but they gave me medication to stop it. When the doctor told me they were about to start operating on me, I got nervous, so I asked my husband to tell me a funny story. Before he could finish the story, both babies were out! I didn’t get to hold them, but I got to touch and kiss their heads before they took them straight to the NICU. Overall, it wasn’t bad. The entire process took about 30 minutes. I would definitely do it again if I had to.
How was life in the NICU like?
Alexander and Nathan were in the NICU for two months. Having a child in the NICU is an emotional rollercoaster. I felt so many things at once. Sad because my babies were in the hospital and not with me, hopeful that they would be coming home any day now, anxious that something would go wrong or I would get bad news. I felt guilty because nurses were taking care of them and not me – I thought they wouldn’t know that I was their mother. We would get the impression that they’d be coming home soon, and then be told that they would have to stay for another week. It was heartbreaking. Some days, I couldn’t touch or hold them and could only sit by their bed and talk or read to them. At one point, they were at different hospitals because Alexander had to get a procedure done that their birth hospital didn’t perform, so we were split. That was probably the most difficult time. I can’t say anything bad about our NICU, though. The twins were at Northport DCH in Northport, Alabama for the majority of their NICU time. The doctors and nurses were so caring and loving, and took amazing care of them. Plus, they communicated with us every step of the way, calling us with updates in the little time that one of us wasn’t there. They also let us do as much as we could for them when we were there, like changing diapers, giving them baths, rocking them, and dressing them – just little things to make us feel involved and teach us the basics for when we got them home. Having NICU babies was the hardest experience of our lives, and in the moment it seemed like it would never end. I remember telling one of the nurses, “I feel like they’re going to go to kindergarten from here.” But once it was behind us, before long, it felt so far away. My favorite messages I receive are from parents telling me they have a child in the NICU and our story has given them hope, because that’s what we really needed at the time – somebody to tell us they had been there and it was all going to be okay.
What has changed about you since becoming a mom?
I’ve realized that the world is a lot bigger than me. Before having children, your biggest priority is you. Your feelings, your needs, your wants. Being a mom makes me not put myself first anymore. I still believe in taking care of myself, but my family comes first now!
What are the ups and downs of being a twin mom?
The ups are definitely double the love! Having a baby is such a blessing, and I got it twice. Alex and Nathan each have distinct personalities, and I love getting to know them each individually. With twins, there’s always someone smiling at you. There’s someone kissing you or hugging you. Plus, as they’re getting older, they have each other to play with, so I can leave them alone in their playpen a bit longer and know they’re entertaining each other. The downs are obvious – there’s two of them! Twice the diapers, twice the clothes, twice the work. When one gets sick, they both get sick, and it feels never-ending. Sometimes I feel outnumbered and overwhelmed. But that’s the thing about them being our only children – all we know is having twins! We can’t compare it to having just one baby because we never had that.
What has being a mom taught you?
That I’m a lot stronger than I thought. I’ve had my break down moments, and I’ve dealt with postpartum depression (PPD). I’ve been extremely sleep deprived. I spent two months visiting my babies in the hospital. I never thought I could make it through all that. Being a mom has taught me that there are important things to fight for when I feel like I can’t fight anymore. I may not always feel strong, but being a mom has taught me that I really am, I just have to dig down and find it.
What led to your PPD and how did you overcome?
I’ve suffered from depression in the past, so I suspected I would be at a greater risk of PPD. The hormonal tailspin from giving birth combined with the stress of having NICU babies and then being completely overwhelmed when I finally got them home was very hard emotionally, but I tried my best to “be strong and tough it out.” Then the twins both got sick, and we couldn’t leave the house for two weeks. That was the breaking point and when I completely shut down. I didn’t want to do anything but lie on the couch and cry, all day long. Thankfully, I have a great support system of family and friends who saw I was constantly sad and needed help. They stepped in and took over for a while so I could rest and try to pull myself together, and I went to a doctor for professional help. It was something I couldn’t overcome alone.
What advice would you give to women going with PPD?
Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. PPD is serious and can be debilitating. If it takes medication or therapy to bring you out of it, find the best way to make that happen for you. As soon as you recognize that you don’t feel right, call your doctor and see what they recommend. And look around you for support. If you have family, friends, or anyone that you can talk to or that can support you, reach out to them. Even strangers – I’ve met so many women on social media or through my blog that have shared their experience with PPD with me, and we’ve been able to encourage and support each other while reminding each other that we’re not alone and this happens to other women. As women, we’re expected to be so strong and it can be hard for us to admit that we’re struggling. Being a new mother is already overwhelming and it’s even worse when you feel weak mentally and emotionally. You don’t have to deal with it alone.
What’s your funniest memory with your twins?
Oh, there are so many! They are hilarious. Some of the funniest things so far have come from their issues with sharing. They hoard pacifiers. One will have a paci in his mouth, one in each hand, and still, take one from the other. He’ll just take it out of his mouth and put it in his own. They also find the silliest things funny. We were listening to a song on the radio that had bad words in it, so whenever they would swear, I would say “beep!” to censor it. They thought it was hilarious. Even now, all I have to do is say “beep!” and they fall over laughing. I hope they are always this silly.
Who would you say has been your biggest support system?
My family, by far! We live in a town with my in-laws, and my mother-in-law especially has been an angel when it comes to helping me with the twins. She has another young grandson, so I know it can be hard for her to help us all while working full-time, but she does everything she can for us. She’s a wonderful person. On top of that, my family in Atlanta, especially my mom, are always there when I need them. It’s a three and a half hour drive, and my mom won’t hesitate to get on the road if I tell her I need her. We have the best family; we’re so fortunate.
How would you describe yourself as a mom?
It differs from day to day. Sometimes, I’m the “extra” mom, driving them to music class, the children’s museum, or baby story time at the library. Other times, I’m the struggling mom, hanging on by a thread, just trying to keep everyone dry and happy in the house while I get work done. I’m still new to this and I’m figuring out what works for me, but I am doing the best I can.
What’s your personal mom quote?
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. The mom in ‘E.T.’ had an alien living in her house for days and didn’t notice.” It reminds me that no mom is perfect and it’s hard for all of us. I can be a tough critic on myself as a mom, so I try to keep that in mind.
What advice would you give to women who are struggling to come to terms with motherhood?
Survive! You’ll get tons of advice on what you “should” be doing as a mom, and some of it might be conflicting or confusing, or something you don’t agree with. Just do what you have to do to survive. If you have to turn on cartoons to get the house cleaned or get a second to put your feet up, turn on those cartoons! Just do what you have to do. At the end of the day, the goal is to keep everyone alive! Don’t let anyone guilt you into doing what they did. Just do what works for you.
Are there other moms you look up to?
My Grandma Barbara. She’s our family’s matriarch and is one of those women that when she talks, everybody listens! She’s always instilled family first values like that family member should never borrow money from each other – we’re when in need, just give. It’s something that’s stayed with the whole family. She is a truly a woman that shows no fear and believes that God tells her to fear no man. She really lives by that.
How do you juggle being a mom and a wife?
It’s definitely difficult. For example, I hate cooking. I always have! So now that I’m busy with the babies, we definitely order more takeout than we probably should. And my house is not always clean! But my husband and I are a team. We try to share the duties and be understanding of each other. Plus, the fun and laughter are still there. We have lots of laughs even through the stress.