During pregnancy, you try to prepare yourself to become a new mom: reading books, getting advice from friends and stocking your house with all the right baby gear. I even read special twin books that try to prepare you for the craziness of twins. But honestly, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the sleepless, wild, whirlwind that my life became once the girls arrived.
Since Emma and Kate are my first kids, I know nothing other than handling the craziness of newborn twins. It’s not easy becoming a MoM (mom of multiples). The girls are only 12 weeks old, but I thought I’d share a little bit about my experience during the last three months and advice for those expecting double trouble.
*Let me preface this by saying that this is just my experience and I’m by no means saying this is the only way. It’s just what works for our family :)
One Up, Both Up
I think this was the best piece of advice I ever received while I was pregnant. I would’ve loved to feed on demand, especially since I chose to nurse, but for us it’s simply too hard to find a moment of peace when the girls are not on the same schedule. The girls eat every three hours (except at night) which we started from the day we got home from the hospital. Now, I live and die by our schedule. There have been many times when visitors ask, “are you sure you want to wake a sleeping baby?” And the answer is a resounding “YES!” in our house. If one wakes up to eat, so does the other. If we let the girls wake up when they wanted to, we would literally never sleep more than one hour stretches during the day or night. Now their sleep schedules are starting to sync up even more since they’re getting bigger!
Cover the Basics
When a miracle happens and the babies are sleeping at the same time, 1) sleep or 2) eat (or eat while pumping if you’re nursing). Especially in the first month or two. Yes, there are a million other tasks to be done – oh like laundry, bottle washing, re-stocking diapers, etc. – but take care of the essentials first! Without eating or sleeping, you can’t function. I learned quickly that I become a totally different person when I’m going on less than 2-3 hours of sleep (yes, that’s total in the beginning). And it’s even harder to take care of your kids when you’re overly exhausted and starving.
Do what works
You’ll get advice from everywhere: books, family, friends, online forums and blogs like mine :) In the end, do what works for you. It will save your sanity from trying to do everything perfect or the “right way”. Plus, every baby is different – and you’ll notice that even more with twins.
I swear by my Fisher Price Rock and Plays (they’re basically movable bassinets) and my Boppy Baby Lounger. With two babies to feed and hold, trust me, you need more than one safe place to set one twin down. Have options in every room – that way you’re not tied to one place in the house all day. Emma and Kate never really took to a swing, but I hear some kids love those!
You’re probably going to hear this over and over again during your twin pregnancy, but I can’t emphasize it enough. Literally, make a calendar and jot people’s names down for when they’ll be coming by. I preferred to have my close family help for the first month (I was a little fragile and on an emotional roller coaster to say the least).
If others offer to help, ask them if they’d be open to dropping off dinner or a frozen casserole. Or picking up diapers/wipes for you at the store. If you’re not ready for visitors yet (I know that in my case, I just wanted to sleep whenever I had a moment in the beginning), be honest and say that now is not a good time and you’ll be resting with the babies. They’ll understand.
I’m incredibly fortunate to have a wonderful family and group of friends who have gone above and beyond to help me. My mom is a saint and I have an awesome mother-in-law who came to stay with me for 10 days. They both helped me feed the girls, cooked dinners, ran errands, etc. I don’t know what I would do without them! I also had a good family friend who was in college and ended up helping me for a few hours three days a week during the first month. It was a sanity saver to have her at the house. If you don’t have family close by, seriously consider hiring a baby nurse for the day or night. It will be the best money you ever spent!
Embrace the Insanity
At some point, you’ll encounter this scenario: you’re by yourself, have one twin on the changing table with a giant blowout diaper and the other twin screaming her head off wanting to be held.
Take a deep breath.
This common scenario could send anyone over the top. But it’s bound to happen. I’ll admit the first time it happened to me, I cried right along with Kate who was balling her eyes out while I gave Emma a bath and soaked her clothes (yes, her blowout diaper was THAT bad.) But once I got things under control, and everyone settled down again, I felt like I could conquer anything if I could handle that situation. Mike and I have definitely looked at each other and just laughed at how crazy our house is sometimes. Thank god we both have a sense of humor.
Set up Stations
The above scenario is the exact reason why it’s crucial to have “stations” around your house. Stock these areas with diapers, wipes, two changes of clothes, two blankets and burp cloths. We have these stations downstairs in our living room, in the nursery and in our bedroom. It will come in handy when you have a crisis on your hands and can’t leave the other twin alone.
Same thing goes for your diaper bag – always keep it “ready to go” so you don’t have to rush around after you’ve got both babies into their car seats. It takes one less step out of the process.
I thought I knew what multi-tasking was… until I had Emma and Kate. They have taught me what true multi-tasking really means. I can’t count the number of times when I’m holding Kate in my arms, rocking Emma’s bassinet with my foot, while I’m waiting for a bottle to warm. Eating dinner? More like forking food, while holding Kate and shushing into her ear. It’s a blessing when there is a moment where I can just do one thing or focus on just one of the girls.
My advice? Try to have something accomplished in the background while you’re caring for the twins. Pop a frozen casserole in the oven, start the crockpot, get the laundry going, or run the dishwasher when you’re able to step away for a minute.
With the babies, consider putting one next to you in a lounger to feed or entertain while you nurse or bottle feed the other (yes, I’ve done that more than a few times).
Look for Simple Solutions
There are some tasks that take forever – no matter what. Like folding laundry. Too bad there isn’t a robot to do that yet! But modern technology does offer some shortcuts these days. Take washing bottles for instance. I found that if I wash bottles after every feed and load them into my Cuisinart sterilizer right away, I never have to stop and spend 30 minutes washing a ton of bottles or wait for a full load in the dishwasher. Our Cuisinart bottle warmer has also sped up our feeding preparation. Trust me, when you have two screaming babies waiting to eat, you need something quick! I’ve also relied on Diapers.com for diapers, wipes and much more when I simply can’t load up both the twins to make it to Babies R’ Us. Plus, they offer free 2-day shipping for the first three months! A true lifesaver in the first few weeks.
Marry an Amazing Guy (or find a fabulous nanny!)
I knew before we had kids that I married a wonderful guy, but he is such an amazing dad, too. As I’ve said before, I couldn’t do this without him. He helps with every feeding (when he’s not working), diapers, shushing, rocking, laughing, playing, getting up in the middle of the night, AKA everything! We both work, so we also just hired a fabulous nanny (in addition to my mom) to help us. Having an awesome set of second hands all the time is absolutely necessary in my book.
That’s the extent of my “twinsdom” for now – but I’ll be sure to share my advice as I learn along the way! If you’re a MoM, please introduce yourself in the comments. I’d love to hear your tricks of the trade!