How Do You Do It?
This is probably one of the most oft asked questions of parents of multiples. The simplest answer is: "You just do." While this may satisfy the curious public, parents of twin infants could benefit from a more detailed answer.
Plain & Simple - You just do it
"Seriously, you JUST DO IT! And marvel at the experience later!"
"No amount of reading will prepare you for the joy of twin parenthood. Though the first few months can be overwhelming, you somehow figure out just how to do it all. Suddenly you realize that you've developed a rythym and system that works. Then they reach another milestone (rolling, crawling, teething) and you start all over again."
Take it one step at a time.
"I basically just broke the day up into parts to be survived. I never look at the whole day all at once, only specific parts, like breakfast, playtime, lunch, naptime, etc. It's the only way I have been able to endure. One minute at a time, that's my motto!"
"One thing at a time. You will find the things that work for you and when you do, you will feel like a hero."
"We all went through theses dark days. [N]one of us are superhuman (well, at least not me). One of the most poignant memories was sitting in the living room with my ID twins and 2 year old. It was 7:00 a.m. in the morning. I looked at my watch and thought to myself, okay, I only have to get through 8 1/2 more hours of today and then I will have help (when my husband returned from work).
"Remember, the first few months you have to live day-to-day. LOL, sometimes (as I did) hour-to-hour. You will make it. Otherwise, you wouldn't have been picked to be a 'special mom' :-)"
"Like any big job, you have to divide it up into tiny pieces with reasonable goals; first, the morning, then the afternoon, then night- time!! (Not this 'one day at a time' crap--I know I was counting *minutes* at what we called the 'high-need' times of the day!!) Then, as soon as you think you can't take it another second, they both fall asleep and become such beautiful angels that you feel like a horrible mom for all the tears, fears, and tiny curses that have flitted across your mind throughout the day. Parenting really *is* the hardest and most rewarding work there is."
"I've always said that my first three months at home was the same as labor. You don't think you can go on one minute more because the pain is so intense but once it's over, you think, 'that wasn't sooo bad, I could do that again if I had to.' Amnesia can be a wonderful gift ;-)"
Maintain a Sense of Humor
"Someone mentioned a sense of humor thru the 'rough' days. I remember the first month at home with my girls; My mother stayed with me for the whole month and sometimes we would literally only get 2-3 hours of sleep (total) a night. We'd be in the nursery at 2am, laughing so hard we were crying because one baby would just go to sleep and the other would poot (loudly) and wake her up! or after changing a very dirty diaper, as soon as you 'closed her back up', she would go again! Sometimes before you got her closed up! I look back on the first two months and as hard as it was (and it was!!!) I just smile. Because without that sense of humor (and my mom) I don't think I'd have made it."
"There was one time both babies were crying, my then barely 3 year old started whaling and for 5 minutes I tried to appease all of them-to no avail. I literally plopped down in the middle of the tear fest and had a big, loud, noisy, self-indulgent cry. We eventually all calmed down and resumed our day. It could have been the thing that sent me around-the-bend but I went with it and laughed later. Always laugh!"
Count your blessings
"Keep focusing on the fact that you are INDEED blessed - that was the only thing that held [my husband] and me together those early months."
"So I guess my advice is this -- do whatever works to get you and your babies the sleep you need. If you try something and it doesn't work, try something else. And follow your instincts. Nobody told me about [letting my fussy infant sleep in] the carseat, but it just felt right to me. It's okay to feel overwhelmed and stressed-out, too. This is hard stuff. Keep reminding yourself that you're doing a good job."
"Try and let them set their own schedule as far as eating/sleeping and just watch for clues as to what they want."
Give yourself credit for the hard work you are doing
"I don't mean this to offend anyone, but I got so tired of everyone telling me "It will get better!" The words I appreciated the most were, and are still, 'I know it's got to be hard, but you're doing a really good job.' Things don't necessarily get better, but they do get "different", of course some moms and dads find it a breeze from the very beginning! Everyone is different! And everyone handles parenthood differently."
Find others who've "been there" and can offer support
Contact your local mothers of twins club and talk to an experienced twin mom. There are also lots of resources on the Internet where you can meet other parents of multiples!
~ Getting Help ~
Most parents of multiples agree that it is essential to get some help in the early weeks and months of having multiple infants. Taking care of these new additions to your family requires almost all of your attention anyway, let alone have time for things like meals, laundry, housecleaning or errands! Here's some advice from seasoned parents of multiples...
Take all the help you can get
"...take ANY HELP at all that anybody offers, you DO NOT have to be a super-human and do it all yourself."
"Don't feel bad that you need help; everyone needs it -- and lots of it! -- if they are going to keep their sanity through this."
"...when people call and want to help ask them to make you a meal or go shopping or do wash. I wish I asked for more help, rather than saying we were doing fine."
"I admire the moms and dads who do it with little help and realize I'm pretty lucky. Although I'm sure I'll have many days ahead with no help I'm trying to avoid that for as long as possible. Right now with the lack of sleep and breast feeding I'm really glad for all the help!! I take advantage of any offers of help and I recommend doing that."
"Sometimes I fall into a trap of feeling like I 'should' do it /'should' be able to do it all on my own, and then I think about quality of life, and the time I'm able to spend with my gorgeous daughters, and I just feel blessed. They grow so quickly and develop so much in the first years, and this way, they get as much attention and cuddling as they would have if they had been singletons. I especially love to take one with me to do errands/on outings so they get special 'just mommy and me' time -- and so do I!"
"Have a "To Do" list ready for any volunteers you can get and let them pick what they want to do."
One mom expecting multiples asked:
You may find it helpful to keep records of your infants activity (eating, sleeping, bowel movements, medicines etc.) especially during those early days when you are low on sleep and energy to remember things. You can use your records to see if your infants are developing patterns or just to help you track the information your pediatrician will request at the next visit.
I am trying to get as organized as possible before my two little boys arrive. I want to create some sort of hourly list that I can write down when each one gets a feeding, diaper change etc. Any ideas?
One of the twins list members has provided two forms which she used. You'll find this especially valuable if your babies are on different schedules or need medication.
The first is to keep track of the babies in the earliest stages, with places for noting feedings, changes, and other info (eg medication given). The other will allow you to keep track of what solid foods they're eating. You can view them together, or see the early records or the more advanced stages.
First time moms...
"My advice would be, if you are a first time mom expecting twins, --and since you MIGHT (big might) be getting alittle more sleep (could nap a bit during the day--I never could with older kids) then maybe you'll have the presence of mind to keep written records of your babies' activities. It may be helpful and necessary 'til you develop your own history with your new science experiments!!"
Keep it simple
"We used a whiteboard on the refrigerator and just kept track on a day-to-day basis."
"We kept track of feedings, but not diaper changes. I printed out a lot of sheets with column headings of time, quantity, etc., and just filled it in."
"We carried around a clipboard with all the info charted on it. My twins were also being supplemented with different formulas, and they were on apnea monitors so we kept all the info on that old chart."
"I used one of those top spiral bound notebooks. I used a page for each day. Each page has a line down the middle so one baby was on one side and the other on the other side. I liked this method because I could also jot down things like the first time they smiled or other milestones and then I could refer back to it when writing in their babybooks. Believe me, you will forget really fast and thank goodness I wrote all of this stuff down."
"To ensure I never let them go too long between feedings(dr's instructions), I just used a smallish pad of paper (so it would fit in my pocket), wrote [one baby's name] on one half and [the other baby's name] on the other, and wrote the time whenever I fed them. Once the page was filled, I flipped over to the next. Easy as pie."
"I used the computer to keep track. I bought a journal program and started one for each baby. My computer stays on all the time and is in a convenient location. Every feeding, diaper change, or medicine given was typed in right at the time. I kept each journal open and running side by side on the computer so it was always ready. It worked great for us, and it made it fun. Plus you will always have it on the computer-you can even print it out and show it to the pediatrician."
"My girls where born 6 weeks early so I had to keep close track of all functions for about a month after they came home. I made a spreadsheet with Excel with the column headings; Baby, time/date, BF or Bottle, quantity fed, diaper change, pee or poo or both and just filled it in with the appropriate info. I had it tacked to the fridge. Once they (docs) where sure that the girls where gaining weight well and thriving I didn't have to keep track any more. It did help keep track of what was done for whom during those early sleep deprived times although my handwritting was terrible fom lack of sleep!"
"When my twins were born... I decided that i had to keep a log book so that i would know who ate when, when they got their diapers changed, etc. I took 2 three-ring binders and divided it into 4 sections: Bottles, Food (which you won't need for a few months), diapers, and medicines. Bottles sheet is divided into these sections: date, time, amount made, amound drank, comments. Diapers divided like this: date, time, voided, stool, comments. Food: date, time, food given, amount eaten, comments. Medicine: date, time, medicine given, amount given, comments. I also had one section to keep track of their apnea monitor alarms. You probably won't need this one, though. I was able to make all of these log sheets on my computer using Microsoft Excel. "
If charting becomes too much
"FWIW, I love keeping charts and being really organized, so I made a big notebook with full charts for each baby -- poops, wet diapers, feedings. After they were born, though, taking care of the newborns was so much work that I soon hated the charts, which just seemed like more work. We kept forgetting to write things down and then would try to remember stuff hours later, which was impossible. We finally gave up. It was a relief. I'm pretty sure we never skipped feeding anyone but I wouldn't swear to it! Anyway they do let you know if they need something."
You can always change it as you go
"When I first brought them home from the hospital, there were two things I needed to know: (1) were they getting enough milk?, and (2) was it time to feed them again? The hospital gave me a form for the first question. All it did was count how many wet and poopy diapers they each had in a 24 hour period. I think the goal was something like 6 wet and 3 poopy, but your pediatrician or any baby care book should tell you about that. I only did that for one week since I was satisfied things were going fine..
"Once it became possible to think about schedules (for sleeping and eating), I wanted more info about their sleeping. I made a chart like the ones you see in books. It has one box for each hour with 24 hours going across the page. I use a separate page for each baby. I shade the sleep times and circle the feed times. I'd do it for a few days to see if there were patterns. If not, I stopped and tried again in a few days. Some patterns are *finally* starting to emerge out of this last try. (They're 11 weeks now.)"
From a mom whose twins were her third and fourth children...
"With the twins, survival was key. The ONLY think I tried to remember from feeding to feeding was to switch sides every nursing to keep them from getting "attached" to one breast. (pun intended) As for diapers, sleep times, etc., again, instinct and experience took the place of cognitive thought and decision-making. Example: if I "sensed" that the interval between feedings was really short, if it was daytime, I'd try to prolong it a bit, though at night, again, survival was the mode, I nursed no matter what. I was a zombie, I don't think I could have signed my name legibly for the first 3 months.
Twins List FAQs: http://www.twinslist.org Copyright ©