Don’t overplan. Or, if you do, just be prepared for any plans you make to be fungible. This goes for pregnancy, birth/labor/delivery, parenting methods, baby care, work, sleep, pretty much anything. This is advice I’d give to any parent, not just parents of multiples. Babies don’t care what the books say. They have their own agendas. And the quicker you give in to the fact that you’re not in complete control, the easier it becomes. Take everything that comes day by day, get as much or as little information as is useful to you in decision making, and roll with the punches.
Don’t pay too much attention to what non-experts tell you. This includes your family, friends, and random people on the street. They may mean well, but unless they carried and raised two or more kids who were born AT THE SAME TIME, their experience is nothing like yours. They might have kids who are 11 months apart. Or four kids under 5. It’s different. It’s hard in its own way, but not the same as twins. Any parent of a singleton and twins will tell you this. Having twins is its own beast. It’s hard on your body, and it’s absolutely exhausting during the early days. Two tiny babies who need everything from you and are completely dependent on you for all of their care. But it’s also amazing. The built-in science experiment you’re witness to every day. The unique closeness of their relationship (when they hold hands, when they fight) is beautiful. But people will sometimes annoy you. You won’t be able to go to the grocery store without someone stopping you to ask if they’re identical (even boy/girl) or if they’re “natural” or say things like “you’ve got your hands full.” And that’s ok. Smile and move on, or else come up with some snappy comebacks. You’ll always be a little bit of a freak show, so if you know that going in, you’ll be fine. Also, don’t compare your birth or newborn experience with any parent of a singleton. It will be amazing in its own way, but the likelihood of a completely uncomplicated, unmedicated, non medical intervention birth is slim to nil. If all your friends talk about how amazing it is to sit in the chair and gaze lovingly at their brand new babies, don’t feel bad if all you can muster is some vague thoughts of amazement that they were both sleeping at the same time.
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Be ok asking for help. And accepting help that is offered. I still struggle with this one. It’s humbling, but honest, when you can recognize that you can’t always do everything yourself. If help means you have a baby nurse or a relative come to stay with you for a month after birth or if it means you let the random person at the park help you carry your stroller up the steps, it’s good to let people help you. You will sometimes wish all those offers of babysitting you got at your shower would magically appear. ASK THE PEOPLE WHO OFFERED, so that you can get some alone time or partner time. Your babies will be ok. And the people who help you will then make you feel like you have superpowers when they do for a few minutes or hours what you do all day long. And in the end, even when you have help, there will be times when both babies are crying at the same time, and you can only do so much. Sometimes you will have to choose who to go to first. When they’re at the playground, you will have to choose who to watch more closely. When they start school, you may have to choose whose class party you go to. And on it goes. They’ll learn to take turns, and you’ll learn to not feel bad about it.
It gets so much easier. The first year with twins is HARD. Physically and mentally and emotionally draining. There will be sleepless nights. There may be fights with your partner. There will be illness and mystery rashes and falls. And so, so, so many amazing developments and changes that come so fast it’ll make your head spin and wonder how you’ll keep up with it all. But one day your babies will be toddlers. They’ll be running and jumping and climbing. They’ll be babbling and talking and singing. They’ll hold hands and give you smiles and cuddles that make your heart ache with the cuteness. They cheer each other on with potty training and getting dressed and learning to scooter. And one day soon, you’ll realize that they are PLAYING TOGETHER. And they don’t need you to constantly watch or direct them. They are imagining worlds together and building and painting and kicking the ball together and taking turns coming up with who gets to do what. And you will have some peace (and maybe even an uninterrupted adult conversation!). And the knowledge that they will have each other to turn to when they navigate all of the hard things to come. As an only child myself, this has maybe been the most astonishing and fabulous thing to watch in my kids. I can’t wait to see what they do next. I know it will be amazing, and I wouldn’t trade the experience of having my twins for anything in the world.
About the author
Sara Rosenzweig Cribbs is TLC’s Philadelphia associate, an attorney and a former high school science teacher. She is mom to 3yo boy/girl twins and has made it her mission to figure out all the ways to make life with multiples as easy as possible. She’s been an active member and trained educator for her local babywearing community and is always delighted to help new twin moms figure out how to wear one or both babies. She’s also been involved in breastfeeding education and support groups, and cherished her nursing relationship well into toddlerhood, even after a rocky start. You can reach Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on our Philadelphia services.