Hello new twin mum,
I’d like to give you a big hug really. Because I remember how relentless and overwhelming and sometimes just completely impossible it all seems. I know that you probably have no idea where to go for advice, or even the time to look for advice. I know it’s all feed, change, sleep, feed, change, sleep, feed, change, sleep, put another wash on. I know you’re probably finding it hard to bond with or even get to know your beautiful little babies, because you just don’t have the time to.
And if you already have an older one, I know how heartbreaking it is looking at this little person who was once your whole world and wondering how on earth s/he will cope with you now being split 3 ways. I know you will miss all that time and energy you were able to give your older child. I know you will wonder how someone so small could possibly comprehend or be happy about what has happened to their lovely little life. But whilst they will never get as much of your time again, whilst things will never be the same; you are giving your little one not one but TWO siblings. My eldest boy could not be more different from his twin siblings, but he thinks they are the funniest little people imaginable. They are often infuriating and they sneak into his room and wake him up at the crack of dawn and try to steal his cuddly toys; but he is ridiculously proud of them.
I know how torn you feel right now, but your eldest one will be absolutely fine – you will learn to all muddle through together. And on difficult days, you will be grateful for your eldest child – mine was my company back in the baby days. He really was. He was a reason to smile after a difficult night. He cheered me up if the babies were cranky. He was a reason to get out of the house. Your eldest one is extra work yes, but s/he will also help you through.
What about those new babies though? If you’ve ventured out much, you will realise that people will stop you constantly to tell you you’ve got double trouble. I would tell you that twins are more than double the trouble. How’s that? You might ask. Surely if you’ve got two babies, it’s twice the amount of work. Haha, but what about all the demands baby #2 is making while you’re feeding or changing baby #1? What about all the trouble toddler #2 is causing while you’re dealing with toddler #1? It’s not just double the trouble, it’s not just doing everything twice…..it is feeling like you can’t actually do anything properly. And sometimes it just feels absolutely completely totally impossible.
Let me give you a few examples……
- Two babies are crying – you can only properly comfort one at a time. There is NOTHING you can do about the other one. You could cuddle them for 5 minutes each and then switch. You could hold one baby’s hand and give him sympathetic looks while you cuddle the other. Not ideal solutions are they? All babies have days when they want to be carried and cuddled – the very second you put them down, they will cry. But with two babies, you have to put them down at some point. And you have to accept that some days, there will be crying, and lots of it.
- Your babies are mobile. You are changing #1, meanwhile #2 is attempting to scale your full-size bookcase. You could go and pull #2 down from the bookcase, but then what about #1 who is mid-change and not quite clean? Quite….. it’s one of those no-win situations.
- You are out with your now-walking twins, and both kick off in the street. With one child you can run after him, you can pick him up if necessary. But when Twin #1 has flung himself on the ground and Twin #2 is hotfooting it around the corner, you feel totally powerless.
I could give you more examples, but you’ve probably got the picture. Twins are most definitely more than double the trouble – when you feel like you’re finding it all too tough, please remind yourself of this.
You simply cannot do for two babies what you can do for one; but they will be ok, really they will. There is a tendency to over-parent these days, but back in our grandparents’ day, babies used to be put outside in a pram while mums got on with hand-washing clothes and all the other never-ending jobs that were necessary to keep the home going. I’m not saying we should go back to leaving our babies outside, but they are not suffering just because you aren’t constantly interacting with them. Don’t compare yourself to the mums who are going to baby yoga followed by swimming and then coming home and doing finger paintings with their children. There is no way you can compete with that; and even if you could, it doesn’t do babies or children any harm to learn to amuse themselves (and, in the case of twins, to keep each other entertained). Your babies might not get all the interaction from you that one baby would have enjoyed, but they do have each other. And as I watch my boys go through all their milestones together, I realise how lucky they are.
So if I could give you a few pieces of advice, new twin mum, they would be these:
- Eat cake, and whatever else you fancy. You deserve it.
- Get out of the house. I know it seems impossible at times, but it will keep things in perspective and remind you that normal life is still going on. Take someone with you until you feel confident going alone. I don’t mean find yoga classes or go off on day trips, but just go for a walk. Maybe to the bakers. Believe it or not, now is the time to do it – they will probably sleep on the move. The worst that can happen is they will both kick off together, but you can handle that. And if it becomes a bit much to handle, find a nice shoulder to have a cry on. In my experience, people don’t tend to mind. When you feel up to it, find a little baby group where you can chat to other mums and watch your babies sleep or roll around on a mat in different surroundings.
- Say yes to offers of help and, when you’ve mastered that, start asking for help. I have only really just started doing this – it is amazing. People don’t mind, most people are delighted to help. If you have an older one, see if you can find someone who could watch your twins for an hour while you take the older one for a walk, just the two of you.
- If you possibly can, get your babies in sync with feeding. This might take real effort for a day or two, but once they’re in sync with each other things feel so much more achievable.
- Know your limits and accept that, at this stage, some things aren’t worth the bother. Don’t pressurise yourself into trying to do too much. They will be little for a while yet – you don’t have to do everything right now.
- Invest in friends who have kind words, make you smile and understand how hard it is.
- Remember that however hard it seems at the time, each difficult phase will pass. All of our tricky baby phases felt like they would last forever while we were in them. I was too tired and dazed to see that they would ever end. Now, it feels like each tricky phase lasted no more than a day. You don’t want to wish the baby days away; but when it’s tough, just remember that each phase will pass.
All you can do is your best, new twin mum. And some days, your best will just be getting you and your babies to the end of the day in one piece. That’s ok though – you are keeping two babies alive.
So go and have a piece of cake. And here’s a virtual hug x