7 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Having Twins
Back when I found out I was pregnant with twin girls, I read twin parenting books, asked adult twins what life was like for them (did they hate matchy matchy outfits?), went to an Expecting Twins prenatal and spent weeks trying to find the perfect baby names for twins. But nothing really prepared me for the reality of babies times two. While my husband was stoked to someday dress our girls as The Shining twins for Halloween, we were blissfully unaware of how much our lives were going to radically and wonderfully change 180 degrees.
To answer the questions that many people ask me ALWAYS: 1) Twins don’t run in our family; 2) My pregnancy was “all-natural,” as if IVF treatments aren’t also a natural way to conceive a baby; 3) They are fraternal; 4) Yes, it’s hard work, but as first-time parents, my husband and I don’t know anything different.
For any expectant parents who are having multiples, here are seven things I wish I knew beforehand.
1. Sleep when they sleep. EVERYONE tells you this. I can’t tell you how many Facebook comments I got about “sleep when they sleep.” It was crazy annoying. But with two newborns, sometimes one is awake while the other is zonked out. During the rare unicorn moment that they both fall asleep at the same time, I sneak in a nap whenever I can. The struggle with sleep deprivation is real. And it’s not fun.
2. Write *everything* down. We installed a dry erase board in our nursery and it is the only reason we remember anything. We write down when the girls ate, how many times they did tummy time and when we gave them a bath last. When you’re super sleep deprived (see #1), you can’t remember what happened 10 minutes ago, let alone when your twins last ate. There are fancy parent apps to track feedings, but honestly, a simple dry-erase board is way easier to look at in the middle of the night when you can’t remember your own name.
3. Color code or label bottles. This was the best tip from my Expecting Twins class. Buy bottles in two different colors. Some bottles come with color bands. Designate baby A as one color and baby B as another. Twins are totally different people so they will eat differently. One might gulp down an entire bottle while the other might leave half. You’ll want to know how much your little ones are eating, and if the bottles are identical, you won’t have a clue.
4. A stay in the NICU is actually okay. NICU stands for neonatal intensive care unit where preemie babies go after birth if they are having health issues. Before their birth, I constantly worried about my girls ending up in the NICU. It seemed so scary to have your babies hooked up to machines and monitored 24/7. But, in reality, when my girls were transported to the NICU soon after they were born, it was the best place for them. The NICU nurses took excellent care of them. I was able to rest. My husband and I learned so much from the NICU nurses (who are amazing, kind, wonderful peeps). It was basically baby boot camp. Our girls were discharged 11 days later and they are healthy and growing.
5. Breastfeeding two babies = patience. Before birth, I had this idyllic vision that I would easily latch my girls onto my breasts and feed them exclusively at the breast. The reality was that they needed formula while I pumped eight times a day and tried to get them to latch. I don’t love giving them formula, but I also had to realize that breastfeeding is a relationship between each of my girls. While one is a fast eater, the other takes her time and can get fussy if the milk isn’t there right away. I only learned that by being patient with the process and learning their separate, distinct personalities was I able to get comfortable breastfeeding them.
6. Baby wearing is a life saver. We had some baby carriers at home, but one of the best things I ever bought is my Solly Baby Wrap ($65). When either of my girls is especially cranky, I wear her, bounce her around and give her kisses. Within minutes, she’s nodding off. Research different types of baby carriers and buy two different kinds. My husband loves the Ergo Baby Carrier ($115+). Plus, it gives you hands-free freedom!
7. Join mom groups for twins. Some of the best tips I’ve ever gotten are from other twin moms. Google “moms of multiples” with your city’s name and find a Facebook group or IRL group to join. It’s so helpful to talk to other parents who have been there, done that and survived. You need the advice that singleton parents won’t ever have to deal with, like how to bottle feed two babies at the same time (hint: Prop them up with two breastfeeding pillows and hold both bottles).
Thanks to Brit.co for the share!
Jennifer Chen is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She’s written for O, The Oprah Magazine, BuzzFeed, Real Simple and several other publications. When she’s not cooking delicious vegan meals, she’s hanging out with her rescue pug, TV writer husband and two twin girls. Find Jennifer Chen at http://jchenwriter.com/.