My Twin Learning Curve- First Edition
There are 2 things in life you can never prepare for: twins. Two babies. One. Two. Two of them. At once.
Twins don’t run in our family. Not my side. Not Matt’s side. Twins were never on our radar- until I saw two babies on the ultrasound screen while a one year old squirmed on my lap. I guess twins run in the family now.
I immediately went into planning and research mode. I knew I couldn’t know everything there was to know about twins but I was going to try. I wanted to be prepared. I wanted to know what products and tips of the trade would help me survive 3 under 2.
As much as I researched read online and registered for and stocked up on, the truth is nothing can prepare you for twins. And especially not twins welcomed by a one year old.
Here’s my learning curve since I became a twin momma, and the #keepingitreal version of what no one else is talking about.
- The Breakup: You will feel guilty the first time you separate them. They have been together since the start, 9 months on the inside and day in and day out surviving parents pretending to know what they are doing. I’m not really sure where I was going and really even which twin I had with me but I remember the exact intersection when it hit me. I was turning onto I-35 when I began feeling guilty for taking one twin with me and leaving the other at home with Matt. I didn’t want to do it, but I was leaving town in a week and they wouldn’t take a bottle so we decided to put their feet to the fire. One at a time per his request. I was only gone an hour or two and I doubt they even noticed their womb mate was missing, but I felt guilty for breaking their bond. I already have anxiety about sending them to separate Kindergarten classes.
- Matching Sets: No one else will pay one ounce, let alone two, of attention to matching and coordinated sets when dressing your children. Exceptions are your mom and mother in law if they too spend their free time at Target finding said outfits. For example, if there are 2 sets of matching and clean pjs folded together in the drawer, one twin will be wearing a pair from one set and one from the other. They will not match, and now the remaining clean set will not match. They will be dressed and happy, do not change them. If you son is in pink just tell him he’s a manly man when you tuck him in. Someday they will not remember their matching pajamas, and by then neither will you. So my mom tells me. And speaking of pajamas…
- Snap Pajamas: Do not buy them. Even if they are a super cute, matching set you find on sale. Resist the urge and walk away. You will regret it when you are wrestling a pair of octopus into their jammies after bath time. If someone gives them to you as a gift, take them back or give them to someone you don’t really like. If you find you cannot resist, at least buy them in the smallest size possible because all they do is lay there and stare while they’re in newborn clothes- maybe three months if you are lucky, but 6 months forget it, unless you want to have a nervous breakdown brought on by infant pajamas.
- Nursing Twins: Your body can make enough milk for two babies. Who knew? All you need to do is sit with a baby attached to you all day ‘er day. Buy a comfortable chair. Preferably a leather one you can wipe down when the babies break it in, and by break in I mean spew bodily fluids over every inch. The words “which one did I just feed” and “you can’t possibly be hungry” will become a regular part of your vocabulary. I’m fairly certain “no rest for the weary” was coined by a new twin momma determined to get her milk to come in. Feeding and burping babies, eating and drinking so you can keep up, and snoozing until the milk coma is over will sum up your days. When you’re not doing that you’ll be changing diapers. I told my mom in the first few months that if it didn’t involve input or output at our house it didn’t get done. That’s where husbands come in. Go ahead and let them know they will be on dish duty indefinitely so they can get used to the idea. They should also get used to being up at night because while you feed one, they get to burp and change the other. Another aside on this one, your husband may confuse burping with several light pats before resuming snoring with a baby on his chest. Just try to resist the urge to smother him with a pillow.
- Pick and Choose: You will be forced to choose between your children daily. Sometimes it is obvious. Other times it is heartbreaking. And it can be exhausting. Whose diaper should I change first? Who should I console and rock to sleep first? Who should get the favorite swing? I find myself doing this between all three of my kids but since the twins are in the same stage (think teething, growth spurts, sleep regressions, etc.) and usually on the same schedule, eating, sleeping and pooping together, it is nonstop with them. It will wear you down. Just last weekend I couldn’t take it anymore and made my husband pick who got to get out of their car seat and eat first, the mom guilt had stacked up that day and I couldn’t choose between them anymore . Sometimes you are choosing a baby because they both need the same thing, usually each trying to convince you they are starving more than the other, but other times you are choosing priorities. One is teething and wants to be held and the other is way past due for a diaper change. And since they can’t flip for it I’m the one who has to decide. In dire emergencies you can feed them at the same time but you lose your free arm to run defense against being bit. You can rock them to sleep side by side but odds are they’ll wake up when you try to lay them down in their cribs. And proceed with caution when lining them up to change diapers or you‘ll have 8 limbs in a stinky dirty mess. Then it’s bath time where no one wants to be the first out of the tub. So until they can Rock Paper Scissors for it, I’ll be picking and choosing and giving them plenty of reason to argue over who is the favorite in a few years.
- Baby Bonding: Before I had kids I bought into the lie that you fall in love with your bundle of joy and bond the instant they lay them on your chest. Then I had my first baby and while I loved him long before I met him, I think it was a couple days before I really bonded to him. The first 48 hours I still felt like I was seeing my husband with a decoy baby, maybe the Morphine and his NICU stay were to blame, but he didn’t feel like he was mine until a few days later when we were packing up to go home with a 5 day old. Before I had the twins I once again assumed I would have an instant bond with both babies, and equally so, but once again I was wrong. I had a scheduled C-Section with the twins and saw them in the OR but didn’t hold them until I was in recovery. I was sitting up in bed when they laid them on my chest, and I say “they” because I have no idea who, once again, narcotics are to blame I am sure. I instantly felt bonded with Marshall, and he instantly wanted to eat, so I obliged and we have been pretty much inseparable ever since. In the meantime I was falling in love with my husband all over again while he snuggled, shirtless, with Mattie, and they too have been inseparable from that moment on. I loved them both the same, they were both my favorites, but it was a couple weeks later before I felt like Mattie and I had really bonded. I assumed it was because I was already a boy mom and so I jumped right in to what was familiar. There is just something about little boys and their mommas. But I thought it was just me. I didn’t tell anyone. Not my husband. Not my mom. Not my doctor. I was embarrassed and felt extremely guilty. And I didn’t ever want my daughter to feel slighted. I have wanted to write this post for a few months, and felt like I should be transparent and have this top the list, but I didn’t know if it was just me or if it was totally normal. So last month while I was working on this post, I nervously texted two of my boy/girl twin momma friends and guess what, they both said the same thing. They didn’t bond with their twins equally and from the start either (though they both bonded with their daughters first), and haven’t ever mentioned it for the same reasons I hadn’t. I’m not alone. I’m not a bad mom. It’s not something to be ashamed of. I love all three of my kids equally but each in a different way. They are three completely different little people, and so why would I expect to bond with them in identical ways? It sounds silly now that I mention it. And to my kids reading this in the future, no this doesn’t mean Marshall was my favorite. You know my favorite is the one who is currently napping, and he just woke up from his screaming as I’m trying to finish this post. So I guess the mystery continues.
- It Gets Easier: This is not new wisdom. Everyone tells you this. I hate hearing this. You hate hearing this. And ironically it’s one of the first things I tell new twin mommas. But the truth is, it’s a lie. Having a baby is hard. Having twins is hard. Being a mom is hard. Life is hard. It doesn’t get easier, you just get confident in your abilities. It doesn’t get easier, it becomes your new normal. It’s not easy, and if it looks that way it’s just that I’ve learned how to look like I know what I’m doing. I promise I really don’t. Just living on a hope and a prayer that we all make it to see another day.