A friend of mine is about to give birth to twins – if she hasn’t already! – and it’s got me thinking back to those hazy, early days right after Elsa and Clio were born. What a strange and surreal time that was: Suddenly we had these two little proto-people in our midst, and our lives became an almost zen-like (when we were at our best…) repetition of feeding, changing and rocking.
I was thinking of what advice I might give a new mother of twins, based on what I wish I’d done differently in the first six months (and what I would do the same way if I had to go back and do it over again). Not so much on a practical level (sleep training, feeding, etc.) but on a more meta-level. Here are a few thoughts I came up with. Veteran twin mamas, please add yours to the comments!
1. Don’t stress about things being exactly even and exactly the same for both babies.
You are not Sophie (of Sophie’s Choice) just because you spend more time holding baby A than baby B on a given day, or if you feel like you’re a little more bonded with one than the other. It will all come out in the wash. Unlike the poop stains on their onesies when their diapers explode.
2. Along the same lines, try not to stress if the babies make developmental progress at different rates.
It’s tempting to think that whoever smiles / rolls over / etc. first is the “normal” one and, therefore, the other is dreadfully behind. Elsa always tended to hit the major milestones first, and every time it happened I found myself fretting: Oh my God, is something WRONG with Clio?? Nothing was wrong with Clio. She was (and is) just a very different person.
3. Hold them more.
I spent so much time nursing and rocking the girls when they were newborns that when they weren’t hungry or fussy, I frequently just wanted to put them down in their bouncy seats or on a blanket on the floor so I could have my hands (and the rest of me) free for a little while—to sleep or do chores or go on my computer.
Maybe this is one of those “easy to say in hindsight” sort of things. But sometimes I really do wish I had just sat around and held them more. Not necessarily gazing intently at them the whole time (one can only do that for so long before one feels like a crazy person), but just feeling their warm little bodies in my arms.
4. Accept the help people offer. And if they don’t offer, ask.
I’m someone who has a hard time asking for help. Once, when the girls were thirteen moths old, Alastair was on tour overseas, Clio and I were both puking, Elsa was teething, and I was up against a huge deadline for work, and I still felt guilty asking a friend to pick up some Pedialyte at the store for me and bring it over. So, my advice is: Take people on their word when they offer to help. Most of them really do mean it, and will even enjoy the opportunity to be helpful — whether it’s by picking up groceries, helping you with the bedtime routine, or just hanging out and folding poop-stained laundry with you over a glass of wine.
5. Hang in there.
There will be times when you feel utterly exhausted, powerless, frustrated and overwhelmed. If these are your first children, there may be times when you are scathingly jealous of your friends with one baby. You will probably cry. But it will be OK. It will get easier. And you will, before you know it, experience the exquisite joy of hearing your children giggle and jabber with each other. It’s truly one of the best things in life.
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Finally — as regular readers know (and as PR / advertising people like to ignore) I do not do product reviews or endorsements on this blog. BUT, as part of my day job as a freelance copywriter/creative consultant, I am part of the team that created and is marketing a very cool new Baby Tracker iPhone app called BabyOnTime. (So I reserve the right to plug it here!)
I totally wish I had this when my girls were little, to keep track of their feedings and diaper changes and medications and stuff – instead of our (ahem) “system” of scrawling everything in a spiral notebook.
This fun little video (which I wrote and provided the voiceover for) gives you the full scoop on Baby On Time. Enjoy – and pass it on if you know someone who you think could use it.
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