It’s been a few months in as a twin mom and I’ve realized that there are some major differences between parenting twins and a singleton.
If these babies are your first, it’s not such a big deal; this is all you know so far. However, if you already have one (or more!) you have to change your expectations to really enjoy this double blessing!
YOUR TWIN PREGNANCY EXPERIENCE MAY BE SLIGHTLY MORE INTENSE… BUT IT’S DOUBLE THE REWARD!
The number of appointments when you have twins? Staggering. They are not so bad in the first few weeks when you’re not that huge, but in the second trimester (for me, anyway) it was a big deal just to walk across the yard. I had to walk across an entire hospital complex now every week, then twice a week! Since twin pregnancies are a much higher risk, the doctors want to see you more frequently which is great of course. You also get ultrasounds more often which is amazing because it always felt like the most anxiety-ridden wait in between them. I am a worrier, but who doesn’t love to get to see their babies more?
YOUR TWIN BIRTH EXPERIENCE MAY NOT FOLLOW YOUR PLAN AT ALL… BUT YOU HAVE THE BEST DOCTORS AND NURSES THERE WITH YOU!
Your labor may happen in an Operating Room if you are having a C-Section. It will happen there most often even if the plan is to go vaginally, just to be prepared should things go an unexpected route. I only got to hold one of my girls as they had some breathing issues and had to be whisked away (all is good now!) Be ready to throw your birth plan out the window, as with twins, the most important thing is getting them here safe.
I had a natural birth with my son. However, with these girls, I was advised to get an epidural in case I needed an emergency C-Section. This way, I would not have to be completely knocked out if it came to a C-sec; I could still see my girls being born. My doula advised that there were some doctors that would agree to deliver without an epidural, but I figured I’d better be safe than sorry.
I don’t regret it at all; my birth experience was painless, joyful, and amazing!
YOU MAY NOT BABYWEAR YOUR TWINS AS MUCH AS YOUR SINGLE.
My firstborn, Luke, pretty much didn’t touch the ground in his first three months. I think this is natural with your first child; you can never get enough of those squishy arms, soft little patches of hair, and milk breath… so you carry them. EVERYWHERE. Or at least I did!
I totally believe in the whole “Fourth Trimester” thing which basically is the idea that the first three months of a baby’s life, they need to be close to the caregiver as much as possible to establish the bond for the rest of their life. So I did it! I fell asleep with him for naps, we co-slept, his grandparents held him tons. Did he roll over super late because of this? Who knows? It could have also been his massive adorable head, which at this point is bigger than his 8-year-old cousin’s.
Since you are now twin parents, there are definitely carrier options. There is the Moby Wrap and the Twin Go, and these are great, but beyond walking around with them, good luck getting anything else done. Until they get older and have better control of their body and head, it is difficult to load them up in the carrier yourself past the initial double front carriers.
YOUR ONE-ON-ONE TIME WITH TWINS MAY NOT BE AS MUCH AS YOUR FIRST… BUT SEEING THEIR BOND TOGETHER AND WITH THEIR SIBLING MAKES YOUR HEART EXPLODE!
I’m not going to lie and tell you I feel like I’m doing this right all the time. As a parent, sometimes it’s just about survival. The first six months are pretty rough in terms of sleep schedules (YOU MUST HAVE A SCHEDULE IF YOU WANT TO SLEEP.. more on this later!), so it’s challenging to get that wonderful cuddle and play time you might have gotten with your first. My twins get diapered, fed, and then set down so that I can check on my son. Then clean. Then pump. Then make some food for me. And before I know it, their one hour is up and they are tired again.
I realized I only ever interacted with them when they fussed which at first made me incredibly sad. Is it fair they only get attention when they cry out? They shouldn’t have to ask for it, should they?
But once they reached four or five months old, the twins started to notice each other. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever seen. When one sees the other, their eyes light up and a smile immediately comes to their face. They talk back and forth in their own little language. Sometimes my son even helps when he hears them fuss and makes them laugh.
I then realize I am doing my best; they know they are loved, and I see they are happy. Maybe I am doing something right after all!
YOUR BREASTFEEDING GOALS FOR YOUR TWINS MAY NOT BE MET, NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY.. BUT THEY WILL STILL FLOURISH AS LONG AS THEY’RE FED.
This is possibly the hardest one for me to swallow. I breastfed my son for 18 months and only weaned as I was advised to by my doctor to prevent the possibility of preterm term labor from the nipple stimulation. I am a hard-headed, determined breastfeeder. Before my twins, I figured I was doing something wrong if I could not make enough. It didn’t matter though, as I had plenty and didn’t even thought about formula.
Once my twins got home from the NICU, they were eating 4-6 ounces every two hours. That is insane, and they have gained the weight to prove it! They were born at 5 lbs 6 ounces, and are now 20 pounds at six months old.
I am very fortunate to have my parents, as well as many other friends and family, help me around the house. I decided to pump so as to make it easier for other people to feed the babies. That allowed me more time to recover and to be with my son.
The breast pump will never remove as much milk as the baby does. Right now, my milk supply is slowly drying up. This, despite still nursing at night and eating these AWESOME lactation cookies that increase my milk by two ounces each session. I honestly don’t have time to power pump. My son hates when I can’t hang out with him while I’m attached to this thing, and I just feel like I’m sitting around being lazy, even though I am pumping and making milk.
The day came when I had to use formula. Guess what? My babies have gained incredible weight, met all their milestones, and are incredibly happy. Not that I thought they wouldn’t be, but “breast is best” is drilled into every mother’s head. I know plenty of babies who are formula fed for one reason or the other, and they also are doing awesome.
Sometimes the stress of producing enough milk is worse than just using formula. I would tear up when I looked in the fridge and only saw one more bag of milk… and I had just pumped. No way would it be enough to get through the next four hours. I would sometimes cry, mad at myself that they went through so much in the NICU, and I couldn’t provide the thing that should be “natural”.
Now when I look at them and they are smiling or laughing, I know I made the right choice. I am a less stressed mama for it, and am a better parent to all my kids because of that.
YOU MAY HAVE BEEN AT THE BECK AND CALL OF YOUR SINGLE, BUT AS A TWIN PARENT YOU MUST MAKE AND KEEP A SCHEDULE TO KEEP YOUR SANITY (AND ENJOY THEM!)
With my singleton, I followed his lead. When I dropped him off at daycare and was asked what his schedule was, I shrugged and said “He eats when he’s hungry and sleeps whenever.” Ah, the easy days!
One piece of advice I came across frequently is this – with multiples, keep them on a schedule if you want to keep your sanity.
When one wakes, wake the other. When one eats, feed the other. If not, you will be in this constant neverending cycle of feeding and putting them down to sleep. As soon as you put one down and go grab your self some coffee and the nearest prepared food item (often cereal for me if we don’t have a meal cooked), the other baby is crying and ready to wake up.
While it may seem nice to spend one-on-one time with them (of feeding and getting them to sleep), it’s better to be able to get a break so that you can be more patient and ready to go when they are awake.
I hope you find these tips useful and better able to enjoy ALL your kids!
This is a guest post by a fellow mom of multiples. If you wish to contribute and share your multiples story/ tips, please head to our Submissions page for more details! This post has been syndicated with permission to Multiples Illuminated.
Stacy Bressler is an avid outdoorswoman, wife, and mother of three under three, the youngest being 6-month-old twin girls. She writes about all things motherhood, including surviving it with (most) of her sanity intact as well as raising mini adventurers. Navigating life through the lens of humor and positivity, she chronicles it all in her blog, The Crazy Outdoor Mama. Find Stacy on Facebook, Pinterest, and Etsy.