First of all, I'm going to start this post by saying that I am in NO way grumbling or trying to act all "whoa is me." This is just life right now and things I want to remember, well I might not want to remember one day, but in any event, maybe this will help someone else out. I am going to add here that I look at these babies as nothing but a miracle. A blessing. A touch from the hand of God himself. These are the sweetest babies, I somehow always get sweet babies, but ya'll, it's tough.
When I found out we were having twins, we stopped by the book store to see if there were any books I needed to read. They had 2 books, TWO, on twins, and both of those were not what I was looking for. I have a friend from high school who is super mom to twin girls that are almost 3. You can visit her blog HERE. I will have to say she was a wealth of information before the babies got her and has been nothing but upbeat and positive the entire time I've had something to say. She sent me tons of resources and that did help. But nothing I read, nothing I saw, no one I talked to had the guts to tell me what this was really going to be like. So, Mandy Mac E, I aspire to be you one day, I'm just not there right now!!! haha!
I think our situation was compounded by the stress of the NICU stay for 15 days. Even though Mom and Dad provided first class accommodations so I didn't have to drive back and forth, it was no vacation. That in and of itself was stressful. I think my feelings are compounded by the fact that I wasn't prepared mentally for the arrival of 2 babies in this household. There were still things I needed to take care of, loose ends to tie up. And the #1 thing was preparing Bailey. I know I haven't posted about the birth story yet. But to make that short, we dropped her off at daycare and headed to the doctor for a 9:30 scheduled visit. At 1:42 and 1:43, we had babies. We told her we'd be back to pick her up, but we weren't back for 2 weeks. I think dealing with her has been difficult because she stayed with her grandmother for 2 weeks and then my Mom when we got home. She has had people paying direct attention to her and she is not used to having to be on the lookout for 2 little babies that have now entered her world. 2 months ago, I guess I thought nothing of her jumping off the couch onto the ottoman. But now, I do!! All I see is her jumping right on a baby chilling out somewhere in the room.
Thing #1 nobody tells you is that it is a MAJOR adjustment for the other children in the household. I feel like it's been more of an adjustment for her than it has been for us. We understand a little a bit more than she does. Pre-twins, Bailey and I had our own little routine after school. We'd eat, get a bath, and grab our ipods and hang out in bed until about 7:30, at which point she feel asleep. She has always been a good napper, too, napping at least 2 hours. She has not been to bed earlier than 9 since we've been home and had one nap that was normal that I know of. Getting/keeping her in somewhat of a routine has caused me much anxiety. If you are a parent of an older child and bringing home twins, get a plan!!! No matter how tired or long the day may seem, stick to that plan. I wish I could suggest a plan, but I don't have one myself yet.
Here are a few more things I'm going to include in my book when I write it:
1. You don't just have one baby to get on a schedule. You have TWO! Which sometimes means TWO different schedules, which sometimes means double the time you are spendingwake at night losing precious sleep that you are going to need come daylight. (Yes, Mandy, I know you told me to keep them both on the same eating schedule and I'm trying.) But what no one tells you is that one baby might wake up every 4 hours to eat and the other can go 6-7 hours at night without waking to eat. What do you do? Do you wake up a soundly sleeping baby just to keep them on the same schedule and ruin them maybe learning to sleep trough the night, or do you just let that baby go? I have chosen to let that baby go, which means instead of being up every 4 hours with 2 babies, I'm up every 4 with 1 and every 6-7 with the other. You do the math. Up and down all night long.
2. The dad: Somebody has to work. I personally see it as unfair to make Sid get up every night in the middle of the night with me to help feed two babies because I couldn't go to work with what little sleep I sometimes get. So, since I'm able to stay home, I only wake him up when there are two babies who are up and crying and hungry at the same time. So far, that has happened 3 times. But what no one tells you is, the dad gets into his routine and on nights you could get a good nights sleep and him get up with the babies, say, on a non-work night, is very unlikely to happen. Side note here: I've been able to sleep in my own bed with my Bailey and not worry about the babies one time since we got home and it's because Mom kept them. I needed that. I needed Bailey to know that I hadn't abandoned her.
3. That being said about the getting up in the night routine, this is NOT the time to worry with who is doing what. This is a time that you are just trying to get through the day (and night) no matter who is doing what. There is no room for a smart mouth or an attitude and when that attitude comes from someone who gets a full, restful night's sleep, it isn't appreciated. In fact, it's hurtful. So tip #3 would be, doesn't matter if you are mom or dad, doesn't matter if you are sleeping or not, if you see something that needs to be done that would be helpful to the other, JUST DO IT!!!!
4. Speaking of hurtful, no one tells you the range of emotions you are going to experience when bringing home two newborns. I read enough blogs and have enough friends with twins to know that the anxiety/stress I feel is not unique to me alone. As a mother, there are just things you feel like you have to have down pat and it doesn't help that your body is trying to regulate itself hormonally from growing and giving birth to two babies. More than likely people around you aren't going to know what this experience is like and are going to assume that you are stressing out for no reason or perhaps just need to calm down. They don't realize it's not something you can help at the moment. I wish my advice at this point would be to not take it personally, but I do, so I can't say not to. This would be the part of the book I write for those on the outside I guess, to let them know what it feels to walk in your shoes so they don't step on your toes. Until you are a mother/father of more than one baby at a time, you just don't have the right to judge. Until you are the one stressing over not one, but TWO babies (are they getting enough to eat, why is this one spitting so much while sucking, are we developing reflux, is this normal, is that normal TIMES TWO) you just don't know what the mother/father is feeling. All I can say is do what you can without going too far. In this same chapter, I would have to include to the others, LISTEN to what the mother/father is telling you. If they say it isn't a good time for visitors, there is a reason for that. If they can't answer the phone every time you call or they don't call you as often as you think they should, it's not personal. It's just what is for the best at the moment. You do not have the right to go above that. Oh, and having babies less than 2 years apart does not in anyway make you an expert on twins. I'm talking about TWO teeny tiny babies that depend on you for every move they make, every need and want they have. Not a somewhat independent toddler and ONE newborn.
5. Speaking of visitors, set your guidelines for visitors and stick to it. If I had it to do again, I'd have a sign on the door. (Lord help me, I just became my mother!) A sign that gave the ok, not ok for visitors. I call it the twin factor, but people want to get a look at those two babies that were born at the same time. It's a unique experience. Not everyone gets to call themselves parents to twins. And no one is prouder of those babies than the mother or father. But there are just times that having company in the house is not a good idea. Here's a tip for visitors: respect the visitation policy. You have no idea what is going on in that house when you come unannounced. My advice is to at least give a heads up that you are coming.
6. I guess in my mind I assumed because they were twins and born at the same time, that their needs would be the same too. Shows you what I know. Don't assume anything. I have two very different babies and I have just recently learned through my friend Mandy Mac E that her babies were on two different kinds of bottles. Those are the things new parents to TWO babies are trying to work out in the first weeks of life. That's stressful. I never thought of that until this weekend, when I suddenly found myself staring at TWO different babies whose eating needs are different. I guess with that probably applies to formulas too. Every baby really is different and you should prepare yourself for becoming Mom/Dad to TWO different babies.
7. Supplies: We started out with lots from Bailey. I also scored some really good finds on Craigslist for baby gear such as a play mat and bouncy seat. We bought one swing. We basically have one of everything until we see what each baby prefers. If we need another swing, we'll get one, or whatever we need more of. But the one thing I did splurge on was this thing called a Nap Nanny. They are rather large pieces of baby equipment, but we keep each girl's in their own bed and they sleep in them. If you don't know what they are google them. If you are expecting a baby, get one!! I got them because eventually I'm goin to need an extra set of hands. The girls sleep in theirs right now and this all we use them for, but they are still a little small in them so it's easier to leave them in their bed. Eventually, they will be used as a second set of hands when the girls get a little bigger. (I was not paid to say that, that is my honest opinion on the nap nanny).
8. Speaking of an extra set of hands: Do not be too proud to need/want help and do not turn it down. No matter what kind of help it is. Use it if people are offering and count your blessings that you have people offering. Don't knock the way they are tyring to help. Just take it and know that they are trying as hard as they can to do things as you would want them done. When you start running off people who are offering to help, you've done yourself in. To the help: if you see something that needs to be done, just do it. That sink full of bottles isn't just sitting there because mom is busy trying to catch up on Days of Our Lives. Chances are, she hasn't been able to step away from the TWO newborns who are demanding her attention long enough to get them washed. Do not assume that just because Mom is doing all the diaper changing/feeding that she wants it that way. Many times, she might be doing it all on her own because she doesn't want to have to ask for help.
I'm going to end this post here because I'm about to fall asleep. But I'm sure I'll have more to update to it. I am not writing this towards anyone in particular. I really do think there ought to be more information like this out there. Of course, all situations are different. But if I had known some of these things, been prepared somewhat for TWO babies at one time, just known a little bit of what to expect, then I might not feel like I'm going crazy. So I'm just making notes for my book writing, maybe in 20 years.
Above all, take time for your spouse. Ya'll need each other more than ever right now and need to know that each still matters to the other. Whatever your thing is that you can do to let the other know you still care even the stress level has reached maximum potential, just do it! It makes all of the above seem like nothing to know your partner in crime hasn't abandoned you!