From my article in “Twins Magazine” Dec 2015.
Are you preparing to have twins, trips or more? People will give you A LOT of advice. My advice? DON’T LISTEN!! Here’s what people will say, and here’s my response.
1) Sleep when the babies sleep – This may work for people that only have one baby, but when you have two or more babies there are days, weeks even, when there is always a baby awake. Also, everyone needs a little down time to take a shower, eat, use the bathroom, or just sit on the couch and try to regain some semblance of normalcy. When my twins were born I was exhausted, but I was also desperately in need of some ME time. Everybody telling me to go sleep all the time stressed me out.
2) Make a schedule for helpers before the babies are born– Really? Sounds great, but practically speaking this is almost impossible. You have no idea what you’re going to need. With multiple babies (and multiple schedules) you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen, or when. And if you’re breastfeeding or pumping, well, no one can do that for you. And I was painfully aware that no one was interested in doing my laundry or cleaning my house; they wanted to see the babies. They might bring a casserole (YES – BRING ALL THE CASSEROLES) but that was the limit. Plus, I didn’t want people washing my dirty underwear or seeing my ratty socks. What’s a future MoM to do? Don’t worry about scheduling help beforehand, ask for all of the casseroles in single portion sized bags and if people want to help and you have something for them to do, then by all means, take them up on the offer.
3) Put the babies on the same schedule – This works for some MoMs, but I couldn’t make it happen when my babies were newborns. I was nursing one baby and pumping for the other so feeding times were difficult and never synced up. Additionally, one of my babies just requires less sleep than the other. They are two separate people after all. If I kept the sleepy one up to get him on the schedule of the wakeful baby, he got so overtired he COULDN’T sleep. And here’s some twin math for you. 1 sleeping baby does not = 2 sleeping babies, but 1 crying baby = 2 crying babies.
4) “Follow the advice in X book, it works like a charm”– Stop reading books. (Not entirely of course). But recognize that books should just be guidelines, not laws. I was so overwhelmed for the first few weeks (cough cough, months) that I was desperate for help and advice. I followed books to the letter and felt like a failure when the tricks didn’t work for me. It wasn’t until I threw up my hands and said “Forget it!” and followed my intuition that things started to improve. I was so stressed out about messing up. For instance, I was terrified to give them pacifiers because of “nipple confusion”. So I often had two screaming babies who couldn’t comfort themselves and I didn’t have enough arms to comfort them both. My best friend finally said “Just give them the binkies. Nipple confusion is better than the three of you crying all day.” I popped pacifiers in their mouths and Viola!, peace. I just needed someone to give me permission to follow my instincts. So here it is – I give you permission. Follow your instincts. You won’t ruin your babies, I promise.
5) Breast is best – No it isn’t. BEST IS BEST. Whatever is best for you and your family is best. Of course breast milk is wonderful, the bonding time is wonderful and if you can breastfeed your babies you absolutely should. But if you can’t THAT’S OK. I don’t know a single person who had an easy time breastfeeding. It’s hard. It takes a lot of work. And sometimes, through no fault of your own, it just doesn’t happen. And that’s if you only have one baby! When you add in a second baby, and the fact that many multiples are born before they’ve developed the skills necessary for nursing, it can be almost impossible. I spent months feeling like an utter failure because I had to supplement with formula, and because only one baby would latch. I was bound and determined to make enough milk for both of them – so I was pumping, nursing and bottle-feeding round the clock. The problem was, I was trying so hard to do it all that I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was barely sleeping. I was grouchy, tired, miserable and run down. My marriage was suffering; my relationship with my older child was suffering. Looking back, it wasn’t worth it. Let me give you the advice that snapped me out of it – “Your babies need a mother, not a martyr”. After I got the message I still pumped and I still nursed, but I gave myself a little bit of grace, and when I decided to wean them at 7 months, rather than at a year as I planned, I was ok with it. And so were they. I was a happier, more attentive mother. I’m glad I made the effort, but I wish I had had the insight and confidence to temper my efforts and maintain a more balanced family life. Again, what’s best for you and your family is the best thing for your babies. That may be the breast, and it may not.
6) Finally – don’t compare yourself to mothers that don’t have multiples. Even if they have a lot of kids. Even if their kids are close in age. It’s just not the same. Don’t expect to be able to baby wear, or go to baby yoga, or do swim classes like those moms. If you can that’s great; if not, that’s ok. You’re not depriving your babies. If you’re keeping your babies and yourself and your family happy and healthy then you’re doing a great job! You do you, MoM, you do you.