So here we go with the reality of having twins, this is all about those daunting first three months….
The first 3 months are rough, really rough. Having twins means you are doing everything twice and if your lucky your twins will be in sync and you can do them both at the same time, but trust me this is not always the case. My twins often woke up at different times during the night for a feed and people often say wake the other one up so you can feed them both at the same time, but that was neither helpful or practical for us, we went by the mantra ‘never wake a sleeping baby.’ They do go through periods of being in a rhythm and its wonderful, but I always found that trying to get them onto what I thought their schedule should be never worked (I actually physically hid all the parenting books I thought would be oh so helpful and stopped listening to others advice that came from a book). Once I started following their schedule, they knew what they wanted and when, and once I knew the signs life became that little bit easier. Actually once they both started sleeping through the night life became wonderful again! That happened for us around the 4 month mark.
Unless you have family or friends who have had twins no-one will understand what you are going through and it will frustrate you constantly because you will get advice that worked for their singleton. Having two 18 months apart is not the same as twins (I have no idea whether its harder or easier but it is NOT the same so please don’t say it is, its infuriating!!). Unfortunately you need to learn to block out all the ‘noise’ because it can really get you down and fill you with self doubt. I’ve felt it and I’ve seen it in other twin parents who feel the pressure of what all the single mothers around them did. Twins are different and you will work out your own way to deal with it all. If you need support there are twins groups out there, they can help. If your in Australia you need to check out AMBA, in the UK there is TAMBA, in Canada there is MBC and in the USA there is NOMOTC. I’m sure there’s lots more but they are great places to start for twins, triplets, or more!
If you haven’t already guessed it costs a fortune! You need to buy two of all the essentials – car seats, cots, a double pram, high chairs, endless clothes and nappies, and don’t even ask how much formula you will go through if you can’t (or choose not to) breastfeed. Having twins drains your bank account and will continue to do so (I’m guessing for the rest of my life). There is nothing to hand down from the first born to the second born because they are twins. I’ve heard of people buying two of each toy but really I’ve found its not worth the expense. When my twins do want the same toy they always want exactly the same toy and an identical version will not do. So save yourself the expense and buy different things. You’ll either be a parent who wants to dress your twins in matching clothes or not. Personally I hate matching clothes but we were given a lot of them, so there’s been a lot of smiling and saying how wonderful and putting one of the outfits aside for gifts in the future.
The boys can be challenging and I am often glad to get them down for their sleep! But its other people that get to me the most. The boys meltdowns and demands I can usually handle but others peoples opinions quite honestly drive me mad. It is hard enough being a mum these days without the added pressure of not only friends and family but complete strangers weighing in on your families business. From the first moment we stepped out of the house we got comments from complete strangers. Yes there were lots of ‘how cute’ and ‘are they twins’ which can start to get annoying but its the other comments that really got to me. People have no idea about boundaries, I got everything from ‘do twins run in your family’ (which is code for did you have IVF?) to blatantly asking if they were “test tube” babies. And then there were the people grilling me on breastfeeding, I ended up lying and saying yes of course I was (I actually knew before the boys were born that I wouldn’t be able to but for those who tried really hard and couldn’t this would be awful!). You will never be able to go anywhere in peace again. And nothing will ever be quick! But you do need to get out of the house in those first three months, not just for your own sanity but because your twins need to see the world. A walk every so often can clear your mind and make you feel good. It can also help your twins drift off to sleep or with the help of an ipod and some headphones drown out the crying. Once a week I would beg my husband to take us to the shops for a coffee, it became our Thursday night ritual and I looked forward to it. Find what works for you.
You can never just quickly dash to the shops, the time alone to get the boys ready to go out and pack their bag was long. But you learn tricks to streamline the process and as they get older the items you need to pack really changes. Then you have to get the twins in the car and at the other end you have to get them out of the car and into the pram and navigate with your double pram and hope that you fit down the aisles. Really most shops are either completely not accessible, seriously just rule out anything that is not a department store, or a real maze as you navigate around displays and people. Trust me its easier when they’re little, once they get to somewhere around the year old mark they work out that they can grab things off shelves. And you have a double pram so good luck just walking down the middle of an aisle so they cant reach. All I can say is distraction works well and you will know which child is less interested in pulling off all the price tags and every box that looks interesting.
Anyone who tells you it will get easier is out and out lying! Twins don’t get easier, the battles you have with them just change. Some things become easier, while new things that you never even thought of throw another large curveball into the mix. But this is all the fun of being a parent.
To see more posts from this series, go here!