I have had umpteen chats with fellow multiple mams over the years and with 2.5 years “experience” now as a twin mammy I feel I can lay down some pointers on what life is really like as a multiple parent
Routine, Routine, Routine
Without routine chaos WILL ensue . There just is no other way when you have two teeney babies to care for at the same time. After we left the Nicu unit and had our two reunited at home I remember sitting on the couch with the other half ,staring over to the two tiny humans in the cot bed ,passing a glance at each other ,in awe our babies were here but absolutely shitting ourselves we were responsible for them. Having gained some valuable advice from the unit and other mams we quickly established a routine to get us through those hazy first few weeks. With it taking 1.5 hours to breastfeed/top up breast milk in a 3 hour cycle there was no other way. We stuck to it like glue , napping at home, rigid to time , making sure we got home if out to get them to bed, leaving occasions early to get them to bed. Some may have thought we were mad but it would be us that would pay for days after the rare time we went against all logic.
So if you are thinking your friend with twins,triplets,quads is not right in the head for cutting short that coffee ye finally got to go for, just be grateful that she actually made it there in the first place to meet you .Until you have to get two babies ready, pack changes of clothes, nappies, dodees, carry two carseats and giant changing bag to the car, lug the ginormous buggy in and out of the car and do all this before its time for nap time just smile !
The Holy Grail that is the Notebook
How else can you remember which boob you fed to which twin last. How many ml’s did they take in their last feed. How their nappy was. Who got the reflux meds, colic relief, Nurofen if ill . What time the feed was, What times they went to sleep in a 24 hour period you CANNOT survive without a journal.
We kept one for well over a year, everything was documented. You have just had twins, you are not sleeping (ever ) and yet you need to remember all this stuff . Which child when you start solids got the rash when they ate sweet potato , who likes carrots, who vomits when they eat egg, in the early days of solids your journal is your lifeline.
I found our journal the other day, and yes I do laugh now at some of the more obscure entries which I will just say refer to certain bowel habits but its something I will buy along with the 100 muslin cloths that any new parents of multiples should own and use.
Double Buggy Dilemmas
Like any parent buying their first buggy I am sure we can all agree that you nearly need a degree to help compare all the various offerings. Notch that up a degree when it comes to a double buggy! We choose side by side over tandem buggies, for me I always feel sorry for the kids on the bottom seat and after months of research we choose the Mountain Buggy Duet , slim to fit through most doors, carseats fitted directly onto it facing into me ( this doesn’t stop people peering in nose to nose at the babies ) and was a lifeline to getting out and about. We thought we had it all figured out , in fact there was only one lift in Limerick we couldn’t fit into and to be honest my newly revised twin mammy budget doesn’t lend to me shopping there often anyway.
And then there was the day I was out in a cafe ,the kids were asleep and I was enjoying a bun and coffee ,I had to use the loo. I packed us all up and ventured to the toilets, shit I didn’t research there was one unisex toilet, I had gotten so carried away with the fact that I fitted in the door and found a space for us that I neglected to see if the buggy could fit in the loo. The car journey home was fun ! My advice is plot out doorways and toilet doorways to any double buggy user .
Who to go to first
This still affects me and will do so all our life I suppose and one that kicks me in the teeth every so often. Go back to when they were teeney and sick , two different rooms, two crying babies both wanting comfort. Who do you go to first, I’ve literally been in tears standing for that split second in between their rooms as to who I could comfort first. Poor child two eventually gets their cuddle but then the shit reality that you will have to upset them again as you try to settle them back to sleep. How do you do it when one is screaming for you as you vainly attempt to settle the other. It’s so hard, luckily I have a fantastic husband and we can divide and conquer but you still have that ear cocked to hear the baby you didn’t go to. Now as they’re older and significantly heavier and your lap thankfully has shrunk to pre-pregnancy size( almost!) there is less room to properly comfort the two. The days of carrying them downstairs after a nap is nearly over, carrying 60lbs at once as it wiggles is hard going.
The Good Stuff
And then of course there is that amazing feeling that you carried two children inside you, yes we had dramas along the way but your body has literally brought two babies into the world. Don’t ever forget that, in the shittest of moments ,when you are sinking in the depths of 4am remember that you are amazing and privileged .
Being a multiple parent is hard, harder than I ever imagined it could be .There is no better feeling in the world to have two kids fighting to be cuddled by you, to have four legs clambering onto your lap and to have two sloppy kisses planted firmly on your cheeks. To have four arms to hold onto you tightly and to one day hearing I Love you Mammy from two little ones.That is what is means to me.