When you heard the news that you were expecting twins you probably were in shock. At least my husband and I were. You probably have a number of concerns including the health of the babies, your family budget, the size of your home and how you will care for two babies when you haven't even had one. We all envision the doctor saying our baby is healthy and happy but not many anticipate the "twin news." From the first ultrasound to their 2nd birthday, below are the top ten snippets of advice I can offer new parents of twins:
1. Go out and get the book, When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads by Barbara Luke. This book at first seemed a bit scary to me but it soon became my pregnancy bible. Many twins are born premature and this book offers practical and useful advice on carrying twins to term. My twins were born at 37 weeks; both over six pounds and I attribute that success to this great book.
2. Research and or arrange outside help now: If you have the financial resources, begin researching night nanny organizations - there are many that specialize in twins. If finances are a factor, then recruit friends, family, siblings and grandparents to pitch in for specific shifts for you. I can't stress enough how much lining-up help beforehand is critical, that way you won't find yourself scrambling in a panic for help when you haven't slept for three nights straight. Having twins is challenging and recruiting help will keep you focused, sane and happy. If someone offers time; take it. If they offer diapers; take them. If they offer food; eat it. If they offer time to sleep; sleep.
3. Get your husband on board: The consensus among my friends is that when you have one baby, the mom's life completely changes but when you have two, the dad's life also completely changes. Get your husband involved, make him a part of the research you are doing for baby products and get him excited about twins rather than terrified.
4. Bouncer Seats: You need two; our twins fed, slept, played, etc. in their seats. I spent many nights feeding one in my arms and bouncing the other with my foot in a seat. We used the Ocean Wonders Aquarium Bouncers and we couldn't have survived the first year without them; we took them everywhere.
5. Join a Twins Club in your area: This is an important social connection that will help you get in touch with other twin moms. Having twins is nowhere near the same as having a singleton and you will feel lost and confused when your friends with one baby talk about the things they can do that you can't. Getting in touch with other twin moms will be a lifesaver.
6. A Schedule should rule your world: Get your twins on a schedule as quick as possible. From the moment our twins came home for the hospital we were on a three-hour feeding schedule. It is also critical for them to be on the same schedule as this brings some sanity to your world. For us, the never wake a sleeping baby rule never applied; If one woke, we woke the other so we weren't feeding all day long.
7. Sleeping: Your life will begin to revolve around sleeping; for you, your husband and the babies. You will spend more time thinking about needing and wanting sleep and trying to devise ways to get the babies to sleep than you could ever imagine. Our rule of thumb was sleeping in shifts for the first three months. My husband would do the 8 pm and 11 pm feedings and then wake me at 2 am for the next two feedings. That way, I would go to bed at 7 pm and get chunks of sleep and he was able to sleep from 2 am on. It was so important for us both to sleep and it worked for us. We also let them sleep in their swings, bouncers, wherever as long as they slept. At three months, we transitioned them to their cribs and they have been sleeping well (not perfectly) since.
8. It's all about the phases. With twins, we found it is all about the phases and it's our job as parents to both enjoy and sometimes begrudgingly endure the phases. From 1-6 months it's all about the burping and pooping. From 6-12 months it's all about sitting-up, rolling, crawling. From 1- 1 ½ it's all about walking, baby-proofing, teething. From 1 ½ - 2 it's all about socializing, independence and temper tantrums. Now at 2, it's all about discipline and also having some fun. My advice is there will be phases you love and are sad to see pass by, and other phases that you barely make it through without losing your mind. Remember this; nothing is forever so either enjoy or endure is my motto.
9. Recognize they are twins - they are separate. People can't help but compare twins and it gets very frustrating and confusing to twin moms. Our kids are unique and individuals and we have to remember this; comparing them or worrying about how they measure up to one another will only make us crazy. Celebrate their differences.
10. Final thoughts: If I were to give one final piece of advice to any mom expecting twins, it would be to follow your own instincts. If you disagree with something I wrote here then don't do it. You are the most qualified to decide what is best for your family; my rule of thumb was to research different opinions and choose what felt right for us. Follow your gut, you are their mom for a reason and you will know what to do when the time comes.