I’m now 17 months into this crazy journey of mum-to-3 with twin boys and a now 4 year old girl. If we thought it was a huge shock to the system to be told we were having twins it was an even bigger life changing event when they finally arrived. This is the first blog I’ve written since they were born which says it all!
We had a 2.5 year old girl and life had been starting to resemble some normality. We had (mostly) full nights sleeps, we didn’t deal with nappies anymore and felt a bit freer getting out and about without prams or changing bags. I knew it was going to be tough when the twins arrived but there were parts I didn’t expect to be so mentally challenging. Don’t get me wrong, I feel completely blessed to have 2 gorgeous little boys but I feel the need to share the things I learnt in the first year.
- Don’t be too proud or polite to accept help – we had so much support in the early days of people offering to cook, wash clothes, come and hold a baby (you need all the extra pairs of hands you can get) Just say yes and if, God forbid, noone offers then ask. I learnt to just pick up the phone and ask people to come help me. There will be people out there willing to help but they may need you to say how, where or when as they won’t want to ‘bother’ you. Don’t wait until you’re at breaking point.
- Take on board advice but then use your head and trust your instincts – For example on leaving hospital we were told not to swaddle or sleep twins together. The reasoning is to do with overheating and increased SIDS risk. After 2, nearly 3, awful sleepless nights trying to settle the new babies separately and falling asleep dangerously with them on our chests, I decided to learn by example. The first night in the hospital when left to deal with 2 babies on my own after the trauma of giving birth (twice) I finally cracked and burst into tears at 3am when failing to settle them. They took them away, I fell asleep and they brought them back asleep; swaddled and snuggled together in the same cot. It was the only way they would settle. Once home and again failing to get them to settle apart trying to follow the advice, I decided to sleep them together. This was the best thing we did in the early days. They settled so well and we just used 1 less layer and checked their core temperature to avoid the risk of overheating.
- Leave the housework – if you’re houseproud then this is going to be a tough one. Seriously, it can wait. Get someone else to clean the essentials for hygiene if you can but everything else can wait. Life feels relentless for a while but just rest when they’re sleeping (if they sleep at the same time and you don’t have other young children to entertain!)
- Don’t be too hard on yourself – I think I put pressure on myself and was wracked with guilt that I suddenly had practically zero time for my 2 year old. When the twins were sleeping (when they actually slept at the same time!) all I wanted to do was crash out. I felt guilty that I didn’t want to play with her, I just wanted to sleep. Guilty that I shouted at her when I was feeling pressured and sleep deprived. Guilty that I was too busy and all I heard myself saying was “in a minute, just go and play”. I found it helped just a few times a week having people over with kids would help to keep her entertained or asking a friend to take her somewhere fun.
- Invest in a good, easy to use sling or wrap – I didn’t really use them with my singleton but with 2 babies you’re outnumbered when you’re alone. 2 hands, 2 newborns doesn’t leave much free to do anything else, especially in those fussy periods. I used the Caboo wrap (UK: http://amzn.to/2AiSKqh / US: http://amzn.to/2ixZ1qa) which was quick and easy to use and gave me hands free to hold the other baby too. Others in my twin group have used the twingaroo sling to carry both. I found that time between 4pm and 6pm to be the hardest especially when trying to make tea and counting down the hours, minutes and seconds until my husband arrived home!
- Do night shifts with your partner -on returning home from hospital with 2 day old twins we looked after them together day and night. 2 of them, 2 of us…we were both pretty occupied most of the time. I breastfed them but struggled to tandem feed initially so my husband would be settling, nappy changing and we were both just up and down all night with very little broken sleep. As soon as we decided we could cope with both of them, we switched to doing shifts in the night and this was the best decision ever. Even though it was tough feeding and settling them both on your own in the night we coped knowing we had a solid block of undisturbed, much needed sleep. This literally saved our sanity.
- Don’t compete over who is more tired!! – this is so easy to do, you’re both sleep deprived. It’s easy to become jealous or bitter if you think the other one is getting more sleep, getting more of a break etc. The fact is you’ll both have different pressures to face. Be open in your communication if either of you feel you need more help or don’t feel appreciated. Don’t assume they know how you feel!
In the first few months of looking after our newborn twins we learnt so much about reliance on other people, working together as a couple, and through all the tough times we’ve absolutely loved watching our little boys grow and develop and seeing their proud big sister playing, mothering and now discipling them! The newborn days seem like such a distant haze, yet in the grand scheme of things 17 months is no time at all. As everyone says, it really does fly by and one day you’ll look back on all the cute photos and the struggles and sleep deprivation will be (mostly) forgotten.