My Life With Twins: Surviving and Thriving During Your Twins’ First Year
Welcome to MoMsday! Every Monday I set aside some time to discuss topics that relate to Moms of Multiples (MoMs). What? You don’t have multiples? I bet you know someone who does? Send them a link! I love meeting up with other moms in the same boat as me!
I still remember the feelings that rushed through me when I first discovered that I was carrying twins at 21 weeks gestation. I was excited, worried, but mostly scared. I was even a little sad. I was afraid that my pregnancy and delivery would be harder (and it was). I was afraid I’d need a c-section (I didn’t). I was afraid I’d be unable to breastfeed(11.5 months and going strong). I was afraid of a NICU stay (we had one in the NICU and one came home with me). I was terrified of managing six kids at once (we’re doing just fine).
Now that the girls are hurtling towards their first birthday, I find myself reflecting on how this year went.
One thing I’m totally thankful for is that I blogged through the year. I blogged a lot. Some days I sounded like a total ungrateful complainer, and most of the time I read my words of absolute wonder at the tiny miracles that God gave us!
Here are my tips for surviving and thriving your first year with twins:
1. Keep an open mind about the delivery of your twins. I was very glad to not need a c-section as both girls were vertex on their birthday. I was totally against delivery in an operating room, as it was a frightening thing to me to transfer to a different space and deliver flat on my back. However, it WAS the best place for the girls to be born, I had expert care, and it was a very good thing to have an anesthesiologist by my side through the whole delivery. A twin delivery is not the same as a low risk singleton delivery. Even though I had given birth four times previously, to large babies, there was no comparison to delivering twins.
2. Be prepared for the NICU. Twin births tend to have more complications. They tend to be born prematurely, they sometimes have traumatic births, and on average are smaller than singletons. I assumed that since I was delivering at term that I would have two babies in my room with me and then going home with me. I was absolutely not prepared to have my babies separated from each other. In hindsight, I wish that I had been a bit more prepared for this possibility.
3. Accept any and all help offered. Once you come home from the hospital, people are going to want to help you (I hope!). Accept it, graciously. Learning to accept and appreciate help was a tough skill for me, but it did ease the transition home. I also learned to ask for help.
4. Keep a log. You are going to need some way to chart feedings and diapers and sleep and medication int he first few months of twindom. Even if you think that you can keep track of all of these things in your head, trust me, you won’t be able to. Some people keep a paper chart near the changing table. I made use of an app on my iPod (Total Baby, which I loved, though there are several options). I also got the girls a special set of baby books, which reminds me that I need to actually sit and fill them out!
5. Take things one day at a time. This is the advice that Twinglegal shared on Twitter today, and I agree. A lot of my worrying never panned out anyway! Some days I was exhausted, others I was exhilarated, but there was always tomorrow!
6. You really will need twice as many clothes. I don’t care what the books say. You need tons of clothes for twins. In the first few weeks they will pee and poop and spit up out of everything, all the time. Unless you really, really, really like to do laundry, you are going to want more clothes than seems practical. The good news is that you can hand down or sell things after the twins outgrow them. I think our twins have clothed at least five new babies!
7. You don’t really need twice as much baby gear. Unless you have a really big house, don’t go hog wild buying two of everything. At least not right away. Of course you need two car seats, two bouncy seats are ideal, and eventually two high chairs, but for us that is where the two by twos ended. We had one really nice swing, the girls still share a crib (very happily) and we have one changing table (You can only change one at a time!) Even many of their toys are shared, since they usually play together. Your mileage will vary on this, some people get by with much less or need much more gear than us. But the lesson is to take those purchases step by step. . .and beg and borrow when you can!
8. Don’t sweat the whole schedule thing in the beginning. The main advice I got from so many when the girls were first born was to get them onto the same schedule. I think most of these people had that blessed twin amnesia, in which they were able to forget those crazy first weeks! Whether feeding by breast or bottle, it is very difficult to tandem feed two tiny newborns who are learning to eat. In the first few weeks it is much easier on all three of you if you can just feed them on demand, as they demand it. Don’t wake a sleeping twin b, don’t worry about a twin a who wants to eat every hour. Eventually you will all fall into a schedule and a routine and if you feel that you can merge them onto a similar or same schedule , then do so, but don’t sweat it in the first few weeks. You’ll go crazy, trust me.
9. Take the babies out early and often. There is nothing more daunting than taking a set of twins out in public for the first time. There is the juggling of carseats, the HUGE diaper bag, and the fear that one or both babies will need to eat or need a diaper change before you even get both into the car. Once you get out you realize that you are like a circus side show. It is tough, I’m not going to lie to you. But, if you don’t just do it, just get out there in the world with those babies; you will find yourself avoiding going out for a year or more. And then you will go crazy. Or your babies will. Or both. Just do it. Just be brave. It gets much easier with time! The babies were a week old when my friend Kristin (another awesome MoM) came to help me get out to our Moms Club meeting. She helped me load the car seats and gave me moral support! It was awesome!
10. Learn to laugh, mostly at yourself! In this past year I’ve mixed up my babies, I’ve called them by the dog’s name, I’ve watched them get themselves into messes, I’ve accidentally left the house in my pajamas and slippers, I’ve made big and small mistakes. But I’ve learned to laugh them off, because sometimes that is all I have left to do!
So, I’ve nearly survived a year! The girls are healthy and thriving, our family is forever changed, and I am thankful for all of the people who helped me make it through!
So, chime in! What are your top tips for this first year? If you could have done something different, what would you have done? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you!