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'Being a mom of multiples is tough:' Group offers Peoria mothers of multiples support, resources and community

The Peoria Mothers of Twins Facebook page.

Motherhood can be a difficult journey, regardless of the number of children one has. But for expecting mothers who walk into an ultrasound expecting to see a sonogram showing one child, but are surprised by two or even three children, the journey can quickly become quite unpredictable and overwhelming.

That’s why the Peoria Mothers of Twins (PMOT) was founded in 1957. Kristy Armatys joined the group when she was pregnant with twins five years ago and is now chair of the organization's consignment sale.

“The purpose of the club has not changed since its inception, and it’s support…our purpose is to support mothers of multiples through the joys and challenges of parenting,” explained Armatys.

Membership is open to any mother of multiples, or those who are expecting multiples. This also includes adoptive, step or foster mothers of multiples, as well as children born within three months of each other. As of now, the group hosts about 65 mothers.

But Armatys said there’s likely many more twin moms here in Peoria.

“There's probably like, I don't know, ballpark, like 200 moms out there with twins,” she said. “There's so many more people we could reach out to…there's definitely a need out there, as well as just trying to connect with moms that are more seasoned. We need more moms who've lived it, who can say to the young moms, it's going to be alright, I'll come over and fold laundry, you just hold your babies.”

Kristy Armatys, consignment sale chair of PMOT
Jody Holtz
Kristy Armatys, consignment sale chair of PMOT

PMOT tries to meet at least once a month. Club meeting activities range from sharing stories and scheduling play dates in the summer months to hosting educational speakers to talk to members about budgeting during the holiday season and organizing social events to raise money for various organizations.

“We are part of a larger organization called the Multiples of Illinois, and so they're a nonprofit and so under them we can do nonprofit things. And so, one cool thing we do is we have a philanthropic this year,” said Armatys.

PMOT will host a pound auction this month with proceeds going toward The Center for Prevention of Abuse. Every year, members of the club pick a new charity to donate to.

While philanthropy is a key component of PMOT, the club's primary purpose is to be a supportive presence during tough times.

“Being a mom of multiples is tough…a lot of us have had hard pregnancies, so bed rest, early pregnancies, NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) stays…there's a lot of mom guilt when you had a kid in the NICU, whether it's a week, or it's three months, that you just can't hold them and you can't be there. And so just supporting them, being there to talk to them…we will share tips and tricks of how do you have both babies at once,” Armatys said.

She added the group also supports mothers through losses.

“We have moms in the club who are big advocates for helping those who have miscarried, whether it's before or after they had their twins, as well as we have a few club members who unfortunately after birth lost one of their multiples," she said.

"And so being there, rallying around them, doing what we can, sending support flowers. One of our club members made a cute little bear for one of the girls who lost one of her multiples, and it had the date and the age and the weight and everything significant for her little one to be remembered because it's hard. It's so hard. It's hard to lose a child, let alone have the multiples and then wonder about the other one.”

This support can look like a variety of different things, from facilitating connections between other moms who were put on bed rest or share a similar experience, to raising money for a mother who had breast cancer, organizing meal trains, and providing mommy mentors to new mothers with twins.

“Just being able to have someone reach out and be like, how are you doing and be able to message back and be like, this is really hard. I have so much mom guilt and they reply, that's normal. What can you do? You can't hold them both at once. How can you rotate? When one is awake?...and so having someone else to almost give you permission because they've lived it is so helpful, because this is so new. You don't really get to redo this,” Armatys said.

Looking ahead, PMOT is gearing up for its biannual consignment sale held at the RiverPlex. This spring’s sale is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 18.

“We sell gently-used clothing and kids and babies' equipment as well as maternity, you name it, we probably have it. And so, it's a really fun thing we get to do. We normally have about 30 sellers,” said Armatys.

Membership fees for PMOT are $35 a year. This also enrolls members in Multiples of Illinois, which come with scholarship opportunities for both mothers and children.

“If your multiples have completed one semester of college they can apply for the scholarship. If you're a parent of multiples, you can apply for a scholarship if you're continuing your education, too,” said Armatys.

“And then they also have a philanthropy that we vote on for all of the clubs to raise money for. And so, this year it's one club member, the husband has cancer, and they're trying to raise money and find a donor. And so of course, it's always very close to our hearts…But we're all about helping and supporting because we've all been helped and supported at one point. And so, it's very much like a pay it forward kind of feeling with the club.”

To inquire about membership, visit PMOT’s website.

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Jody Holtz is WCBU's assistant development director, assistant program director, host of WCBU's newsmagazine All Things Peoria and producer of WCBU’s arts and culture podcast Out and About.