32 weeks pregnant with the twins
Two heartbeats... say WHAT!
That's just the beginning of the differences between having a singleton and twins.
For those of you new to the party, I have an almost-four year old daughter and almost-two year old twins. They were born 2 years and 1 day apart. I basically had a baby, then added two more babies on top of that. Having two after having one is like a familiar dance, but inside a martini shaker, minus the alcohol. It's familiar, and you get glimpses of something you recognize, but most of the time you're dazed and confused - and mostly covered in some kind of liquid.
Hazel, Nora & Katie
I get asked all the time how we did it, so here's my lessons on how to survive and thrive with twins when an older sibling is in the mix.
*Some of these may even apply if you don't have an older little to contend with*
1. Have an amazing partner - My husband has always been a hands-on Daddy, but he stepped up, big time once I became pregnant. He became the keeper of the toddler while I held down the fort growing, birthing, and caring for the twins. He mastered getting those tiny elastics around a squirming girl's pony tail, he figured out how to wrangle her into the car, and he took her to and from daycare. He took that off my plate, so I didn't have to think about when her teeth were last brushed, or when she was bathed. I just knew she was taken care of and the moments I did get with her, I could just enjoy. And this arrangement has paid off. Their relationship has grown and now when she wakes up early in the morning she always goes to him first (score!)
2. Keep your oldest in childcare - While I was on maternity leave (12 months here in Canada) we kept our oldest daughter in daycare during the week. We did this for a few reasons: To keep her schedule the same, to give her socialization, and to give me a break. So between 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., it was just me and the twins. We had to prioritize this financially, since daycare isn't cheap and not working for a year puts a strain on finances. Somehow we made it work.
Bonus - your twinnies will get bumped to the front of the line for infant daycare spots if their older sibling is attending. And trust me, finding infant spots is impossible, let alone two at once.
3. Get help where you need it - A house cleaner is an incredible investment. It doesn't have to cost a fortune. Ours does the basics for $50 a visit. I gladly pay $50 to not scrub toilets or wash the floors.
Technology is a wonderful thing - use it! I did all my groceries online and would choose a pick up slot right after my husband gets off work. He would pick it up on his way home, which cut hours out of our routine every week.
One of the ways we were able to keep Nora in daycare was my husband working Friday evenings. So my best friend showed up with her toddler every Friday with food in hand for months. She would help me bathe all the girls and tuck them into bed. I don't know how I'd ever be able to repay her for that kindness.
My best friend feeding me the dinner she
brought, while I fed the girls
This could also be a doula, food delivery service, a night nurse, a girl Friday. Wherever you need help, say yes and book the service.
Our doula Victoria Nicholas from
Victorian Wellness giving me
a much needed minute to myself
4. Create time for yourself - I've been through the newborn stage before and once I got comfortable with the whole two baby thing, I was feeling alright. Again, my husband stepped up to help with evening feeds, but since he had to work, the night time shifts were all me. We quickly figured out a routine and at about 4 months, we had our groove. A far cry from the routine built with my oldest within a few weeks. It was a long 4 months. Every evening I would hand the babies over and head to bed for some uninterrupted and well deserved sleep, then high-five my husband and take over while he got some shut eye.
Any time a grandparent or friend came over, I would hand those babies over and go shower, sleep, or take a moment without anyone touching me. I don't remember the feeling of being touched out quite as much as I did with the twins. That 10 minutes in the bathroom alone often was the only thing keeping me above water.
5. Let go of what you know - With Nora, I was out of the house all the time. Grocery shopping, baby play dates (which were more like Mommy play dates), baby & me classes, baby art class... we had something to do every day. With the twins, I rarely left the house. We went to a handful of baby & me classes, but they were always more stressful than it was worth. Play dates only happened if someone came to me. It sounds like I'm being selfish but this world is not built for twins. I get stopped everywhere I go.
So here's the thing about having twins second, you know what you're missing out on. The lazy morning naps cuddled up together, the mall strolls, baby wearing, long walks in the afternoon, and peaceful errand running. All of the things that are glamorized about motherhood and maternity leave. Even just a simple trip to the doctor. None of that is possible in the same way it is with just one baby. This can be depressing, and it's something I struggled with for months.
6. Flexible routine, not ridged schedule - Anyone who is a mother knows the value of a routine. With twins, it's that important x2. Dealing with one screaming baby in public is difficult, but dealing with two is next level. I want to avoid that at all costs. I'll tell you a story about the first time I went to Costco with the girls.
At the time, the girls had a 1.5 hour wake window. After nap time, both girls needed new diapers and bottles. It took 30 minutes to get them ready, into their car seats and out the door. I was left with 1 hour to do what I needed and get home. The drive to Costco was 10 minutes long and I knew I needed 10 minutes to drive home. Down to 40 minutes. You can do Costco in 40 minutes, right?
We're stopped immediately at the door.
"Are they twins?" Yes
"Are you sure? They don't look alike!" Yes I was there when they came out, they're fraternal
"A boy and a girl" Sigh... no two girls
"Did you know you were having twins?" I did!
"Wow you've got your hands full" I sure do
"Thank goodness it was you and not me!"
*Polite smile and start pushing cart away*
Repeat this conversation 4 more times before hitting the baby section in the back corner of the store. Then this gem of a person comes along...
"OMG TWINS?!?!" yep
"They're so cute!" Thank you
"You're so strong. I would rather kill myself than have twins!" Lovely... Have a great day.
This was right after my cousin had passed. Now I'm thinking about that. And Now I'm annoyed and I've got 20 minutes left to get to the front, check out and load the car. I've only managed to grab a few formula containers and wipes. There's no groceries in my cart at all and I have two ticking time bombs. Stressed out yet? Yeah, me too.
Long story short, the girls both had full blown screaming fits in the parking lot, passed out in the car, and neither survived the car seat to bed transfer. Our whole day was turned on its end. It wasn't worth it.
That was the last time I took them to Costco.
Grocery shopping. Don't let the smile fool you. It was hell
7. Supermom? Don't know her - I get asked all the time how I do it. Most of the time the answer is "I don't." When they were little, I didn't do anything. I missed out on a lot, much like all these new momma's who have had quarantine babies. So my best advice - don't try and do it all. You will fail. Instead, do the bare minimum, and IF you have time, add in something on the *nice to do* list. And feel free to hand that list to any visitor that walks through that door and have them cross something off before they leave. You'd be surprised how willing your friends and family are to help if they knew what you really needed.
So that's it. 7 easy steps to success. Just kidding. It's going to be a shit show. But hopefully some of these tips help you survive the twin tornado heading your way. Just remember - everything is just a phase! At the end of the day, a routine is everything. Eat, sleep, play. And stick to wake windows. You've got this!