I can still distinctly remember our joy on the day we learned our two little guys were on the way. After my husband and I both recovered from the initial shock of witnessing two steady heartbeats on the ultrasound screen, I remember feeling sorry for all of the other expecting moms in the doctor’s waiting room thinking most were only expecting one baby. I’d always been an overachiever and, I’ll be honest here, this whole having-two-babies-at-once thing felt like the epitome of overachievement.
I wrote a list of suggestions for a friend who had recently found out she was having twins and figured there are other expecting twin mommas out there who could use the same advice. And remember, my boys are 6. I survived. They survived. You’ve got this.
1. Realize you’re in survival mode.
In the first few months, which I affectionately coined the “Let’s Just Keep Everyone Alive” season, do not exert energy on any activity that is not critical to the survival of your little tribe. Remember that everyone (importantly, and often overlooked, YOU, momma) needs to eat. Shamelessly enlist friends and family to prepare meals for you. Freeze meals. Order takeout. Do whatever you can to ensure you are feeding everyone.
Drink a lot of water.
Sleep whenever and wherever you can. And do not believe for one second that you will be able to “nap when the babies nap.” That is nonsense that moms of singletons throw in your face to make you feel even crazier than you already do. These babies do not sleep at the same time. There is always someone who needs a clean diaper or has to eat. I had a strict rule that if you have arms or feet (sleeping babies in a car seat can be rocked with a foot, thank you very much), you were allowed in my house to help. And while you rock (whoever you are, it doesn’t really matter as long as you are rocking/feeding/changing a baby), I sleep. Period.
2. Breathe through the tears.
They will cry. A lot. And usually at the same time. And, yes, you will be alone with them when they cry. At the same time. I’m warning you now; these two teeny, tiny, wobbly little humans will bring you to your knees. Your heart will break when you come to terms with your physical inability to calm both babies. You will cry and you will do your best to contort your arms and legs into bizarre positions in order to attempt holding and feeding two newborns at once. (I had some success holding one while resting one in the crook of my knee while bouncing my leg and rocking my arms.)
And, even though I couldn’t stand it when people told me this, I’m going to say it: it is OK if they cry. It’s OK. In the spirit of Anna and Elsa, let it go! Let go of the guilt. I promise you, they will soon become these little people who can feed themselves (Yes! It is amazing!) and they will not remember which baby you fed first at 3 a.m. when they were 5 weeks old. They won’t. I promise. (OK, I don’t know this for sure, but I’m about 99.9 percent confident here.)
Focus on the most urgent need first. Then, move on to the next baby. All the while praying that someone will miraculously drop by to see if you need any help (Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, God, for all of the merciful “drop-ins” during my first few weeks home alone with the boys).
3. How to transport two babies from Point A to Point B.
First, you can cancel your gym membership (as if that didn’t already happen the second your doctor gave you the order to stop working out during pregnancy with twins — or was that just me?), because you will be doing some heavy lifting. Lugging two car seats is a workout. Those things weigh a ton. Then, add the weight of the babies. You are easily benching 450, girl (give or take a pound). You are superwoman.
And the trick to getting the babies in the car is to load them up in their infant seats inside of the house. Leave one on the floor while you put one in the car and then go back for the other.
*Bonus points if you have a black lab who keeps watch over the baby sitting inside since you will worry that your newborn has unlatched himself and jumped out of his seat in the 45 seconds that you were away. It sounds crazy, but you too will become a frantic loon when running on two hours of sleep. Just trust me on this and prepare your people for it: lack of sleep can turn the most sane, calm momma into a full-blown crazy person.
4. Don’t worry about leaving the house (especially by yourself).
It won’t happen. There will always be someone who spit up and needs an outfit change. Or someone who needs a diaper change. Or someone who needs to eat again. Just take each day in stride. If you are able to walk the twins to the end of the driveway in their stroller, count that as a success. Remember that this is just a short season of life. This too shall pass.
5. Really, just stay home (at least for a while).
Trust me, I once tried to meet a friend for lunch the week after the boys came home from the hospital. My friend had also just had a baby so it seemed like a fun idea. I mean, isn’t that what new moms on maternity leave do? (Did you notice the very important detail here? My friend had A newborn. ONE.) Speaking from experience, as a momma of twins AND a momma to a singleton, taking one baby to lunch with a friend is completely reasonable. Taking two babies to lunch (with a friend who has her own baby and can’t even help hold one of yours) is a bad, bad idea. I’m sorry, people of Panera. You shouldn’t have had to see that.
Just avoid it for as long as you possibly can.
6. Be prepared: people are weird and they say weird things.
My favorite: a friend of mine kept getting asked if her boy/girl twins were identical (I wish I were kidding).
People will ask if your babies are “natural” (don’t even get me started on that one), and everyone will ask if twins run in your family (an unveiled attempt to be subtle when asking if you conceived with the assistance of fertility treatments).
Just smile and remember that your babies will grow up and become less fascinating to passing strangers eventually.
7. Write everything down.
You will forget which baby you fed at the 3 a.m. feeding. It’s inevitable.
*And, on that note, wake brother/sister up after you finish the first feeding to keep the babies on the same schedule. As awful as the thought of waking a sleeping baby is, it’s the best option if you hope to get any sleep between nighttime feedings.
8. Let go of expectations.
I mean it. Let ’em go.
9. Slow down and marvel at the miracles in your arms.
TWO BABIES. Double the joy. Truly, each and every day will reveal new reasons to be grateful for the double portion in your arms. Back to #7 . . . write it all down.
I promise, with each passing day you will gain more confidence in your ability to parent these two little people. You will laugh with them and chase after them as they learn to crawl and then walk (in opposite directions, of course). You will watch their individual personalities emerge and you will be in awe of their devotion to one another. You will be overwhelmed with kisses and hugs at the end of a long day.
10. Throw a party on the 365-day mark!
Celebrate! You ALL MADE IT! Toddlerhood brings new challenges, but you survived the first year . . . the hardest by far with twins, in my opinion. Take time to reflect on the past year with loved ones. And, of course, Champagne.